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Fostering a Relationship with a Corporate Sponsor to Grow an Engineering Leadership Development Program

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Creating Impactful Learning Experiences for Engineering Leaders

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development

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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Michelle Melvin Louisiana State University

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Elizabeth M. Melvin is currently the Director of Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She earned her BS in chemical engineering from The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH in 2002 and her MS and PhD in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC in 2008 and 2011 respectively. While NC State, the focus of her research was to design microfluidic devices for the detection and manipulation of various cell types. One application in particular was to design an electrically-driven cell focusing microfluidic device to be used in conjunction with an optical waveguide for environmental-based applications. Although, she has held a number of positions in industry with companies such as: Dow Corning, Johns Manville and Hospira, her passion lies in teaching, mentoring undergraduate students and promoting excellence in education for engineers.

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Boz Bowles Louisiana State University

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David "Boz" Bowles is an Assistant Director of Academic Affairs for the College of Engineering, where he coordinates the Communications Across the Curriculum program for the College. He also manages the Communication Studio in the Chevron Center for Engineering Education at Louisiana State University. He earned a baccalaureate degree in English and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Adrienne Steele Louisiana State University

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Adrienne Steele has 20 years experience in STEM education. Currently, Adrienne works at Louisiana State University as the Assistant Director of Student Programs and Outreach in the Chevron Center for Engineering Education. Her current responsibilities include managing a large peer mentoring program, facilitating all aspects of a first year student bridge camp, assisting faculty members with outreach activities and grant proposals, and working with other student leadership programs in the College of Engineering. Previously, she coordinated the Scope-On-A-Rope (SOAR) Outreach Program in the Department of Biological Sciences, where she worked for 10 years and led 175 workshops for K-12 teachers. Prior to her positions at LSU, Adrienne was the Science Education Curator at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge. Adrienne has a Master of Science degree in zoology, and an Education Specialist Certification in science education.

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Abstract Engineering colleges and departments have built partnerships with industry and corporate partners to help shape the engineering curriculum. In these partnerships, it has become apparent that industry is looking for academic programs to extend their focus beyond technical curricula and delve into professional development programs, leading to the emergence of engineering leadership development programs [1]. In this work-in-progress, we discuss the evolution of a leadership development program that involves a direct relationship with a corporate sponsor and a scholarship program. The XXX Leadership Academy has been a part of the XXX College of Engineering scholarship program since 2013 and is wholly funded by XXX. The program began as a one-semester leadership training program typically comprised of 13-17 students from various engineering majors. The program’s seminar-based workshop curriculum mainly enlisted the help of faculty from the College of Business, and students received a $1,000 stipend upon completion of the semester. Using voice-of-the-customer techniques, it was determined in fall of 2017, the program was not meeting the needs of the corporate sponsor, nor was it effective in assessing the professional development of participants. Specifically, the corporate sponsor wished to increase the scholarship amount (from $1,000 for one semester to $5,000 for one year), to gain more access to students, to develop a lasting relationship with the students by retaining students in the program beyond one semester, and to incorporate active learning workshops rather than mere lectures. The revamped program and workshop curriculum was designed to carefully incorporate established engineering leadership core competencies: communication, innovation / creativity, execution, teamwork, leadership toolbox and personal drive [2-7]. The 2017-2018 XXX Leadership Academy consisted of 30 students from freshmen to juniors from all engineering disciplines (except biological engineering and construction management) and ISDS. The curriculum was comprised of several elements: required reading and reflection assignments associated with a text (Student Leadership Challenge by Kouzas and Posner), professional development workshops [6-7], teambuilding and networking activities, a corporate mentor from XXX, opportunities to practice leadership, outreach [6], and an end-of-year banquet. Workshop topics included: Emergenetics, resume / interview skills, speaking to upper management, negotiation, elevator speeches, diversity, project management, delivering presentations, networking, and creating a personal brand. The participants were surveyed before and after the program about their perceptions of leadership, their own leadership abilities, their knowledge base of leadership topics, and their feedback on the workshops. Preliminary evaluation of the data shows a distinct increase in student confidence in leadership roles. Many students were inspired to pursue leadership roles within the College of Engineering and university. As a work-in-progress, the program continues to evolve in the 2018-2019 academic year. Now that the program is in its second year, the workshops have been designed to incorporate a tiered system such that participants can attend workshops that match their level of understanding of a topic. Upon building confidence of the leadership program with the corporate sponsor, it is the intent to grow the program to a college-wide leadership program.

References 1) Hartmann, B.L. and Jahren, C. T.. “Leadership: Industry Needs for Entry-Level Engineering Positions”. Journal of STEM Education. 16(3) pp 13-19, 2015.

2) Paul, R. and Cowe Falls, L.. “Engineering Leadership Education: A Review of Best Practices”. 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Proceedings. June 2015. [Paper ID# 13725].

3) Farr, J. V. and Brazil, D.M.. “Leadership Skills Development for Engineers”. Engineering Management Journal. 21(1) pp 3 – 8, 2009.

4) Siller, T. J., Rosales, A., Haines, J. and Benally, A.. “Development of Undergraduate Students’ Professional Skills”. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice. 135(3) pp 102 – 108, 2009.

5) Graham, R., Crawley, E., Mendelsohn, B.R., “Engineering leadership education: A snapshot review of international good practice”. White Paper sponsored by Bernard M. Gordon – MIT Engineering Leadership Program.

6) Ansari, F., Wang, J., Shelby, R., Patten, E., Pruitt, L.A., “A Follow-Up Study of a First Year Leadership and Service Learning Module”. 120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. June 2013. [Paper ID# 6662].

7) Stephens, C., Friesen, K.L., “Building Piece by Piece: Teaching Engineering Leadership through Integrated Modules”. 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Proceedings. June 2015. [Paper ID# 12047].

Melvin, E. M., & Bowles, B., & Steele, A. (2019, June), Fostering a Relationship with a Corporate Sponsor to Grow an Engineering Leadership Development Program Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--31909

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