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Faculty, Student, and Practitioner Initial Conceptions of Leadership

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Literature and Research Perspectives on Engineering Leadership Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development

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Paper Authors


Kenneth Lamb P.E. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

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Kenneth is an Associate Professor at Cal Poly Pomona and a licensed Professional Engineer in Nevada with experience working on a variety of water, storm water, and waste water systems projects. He holds degrees from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (BSCE and PhD) and from Norwich University (MCE).

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Werner Zorman Harvey Mudd College

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Werner Zorman is the Associate Professor and Annenberg Chair of Leadership at Harvey Mudd College. Before he joined Harvey Mudd, he was the Associate Director of Leadership Programs at Cornell’s College of Engineering from 2012 to 2016.

Mr. Zorman received his M.S. degree in computer science from the University of Technology in Vienna. He worked for 23+ years in the telecom industry in Europe and North America as engineer, leader, mentor, coach and leadership development professional.

After a long and fulfilling customer-facing career, Mr. Zorman decided in 2007 to change his career direction and to focus on leadership development, mentoring and coaching to support engineers on their journey to become effective and successful leaders. He designed and delivered programs in the area of leadership- and team development addressing areas like effective communication, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and customer service excellence.

It was during those five years when he realized that supporting young professionals with their leadership development is his life calling. He decided to leave corporate business and accepted a position at Cornell’s College of Engineering.

During the last years, Mr. Zorman has focused on the design and implementation of a course using a student-led laboratory method which supports the development of authentic leadership skills.

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Alicia M. Kinoshita San Diego State University


Natalie Mladenov San Diego State University

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Dr. Natalie Mladenov is an associate professor and William E. Leonhard Jr. Chair in Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at San Diego State University. She received her PhD and MS degrees from University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Mladenov is the Director of the Water Innovation and Reuse Lab at SDSU and leads projects on decentralized water reuse systems and water quality in pristine and polluted environments. She is also a founding member of the Area of Excellence, “Blue Gold: Mitigating the Effects of Water Scarcity,” an interdisciplinary and collaborative group conducting research and educational activities on topics relevant to water scarce regions of the world.

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Despite being a “paradoxically obscure topic” [1] most people have an inkling about what leadership is, or what knowledge, skills, or attitudes leaders should have. This prior knowledge can help or hinder the deployment of a new leadership program if that new leadership program focuses on leadership principles which build upon, or are dramatically different from, the prior knowledge at the institution. Three universities are in the initial stages of launching engineering leadership programs and each wishes to build upon the foundational concepts or perceptions of faculty, students, and program stakeholders. This work (still in progress) presents the initial findings of a survey of faculty and students from three separate colleges of engineering: One, a small private institution; the other two are larger public institutions. Others started the faculty and student engagement using focus groups. We then augmented this initial work with industry focus groups. For each school the faculty and students are sent a link to respond to an online survey. All of the respective faculty and students are contacted via their university email. The survey consists of two kinds of survey items. The first set of questions is meant to determine the attitude and knowledge the respondent has about leadership. The second set involves providing short answer responses to open ended questions and statements to observe the key words used to describe leadership. The results of the survey show students, faculty, and practitioners all see leadership as something that is developed. That said, faculty and industry have a more nuanced view of leadership than do students as some of them felt that the traits of a leader are very important while none of the students rated ‘born traits’ higher than ‘somewhat’ important. The open ended responses also help inform the researchers that faculty and students see leadership as a self-development process, or a process of learning how to engage others. Very few faculty and students identified leadership as a tool to lead a cause. A similarly small number identified leadership with the ethical dimension. Faculty are already using certain tools to teach leadership without labeling it as such. Faculty stated that they utilize tools to develop student leadership by increasing self-awareness and social-awareness. Faculty do not currently employ lessons to teach leading a cause or leading ethically, but that could be because they consider that part of engineering practice and not leadership development. Students seek opportunities to learn more about developing themselves more and improving working with others. Their demand and the faculty supply of leadership opportunities creates an opportunity to build leadership programs at the three institutions.

Lamb P.E., K., & Zorman, W., & Kinoshita, A. M., & Mladenov, N. (2018, June), Faculty, Student, and Practitioner Initial Conceptions of Leadership Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30514

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