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Industry Participation In The Development Of Engineers As Leaders In Work Environments

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

College-Industry Partnerships: Bringing Industry into the Curriculum Development and Design Cycle

Tagged Division

College-Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.732.1 - 15.732.11



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Paper Authors


Osman Cekic Purdue University

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Osman Cekic, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at Purdue University School of Engineering Education. Osman's research interests include higher education policy, finance and the linkages between budget and organizational culture, and college student retention. He is also interested in engineering education culture, college student development in engineering disciplines as well as leadership and policy issues in engineering education.

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Monica Cox Purdue University

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Monica F. Cox, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She obtained a B.S. in mathematics from Spelman College, a M.S. in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy Studies from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Teaching interests relate to the professional development of graduate engineering students and to leadership, policy, and change in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Primary research projects explore the preparation of engineering doctoral students for careers in academia and industry and the development of engineering education assessment tools. She is a NSF Faculty Early Career (CAREER) award winner and is a recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

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Jiabin Zhu Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jiabin Zhu is a PhD student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She obtained a B.S. in Physics from East China Normal University, a M.S. in Optics from Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a second M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Purdue University. Her primary research interests relate to the professional development and mentoring of engineering graduate students. She is a student member of American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Industry Participation in the Development of Engineers as Leaders in Work Environments

Abstract In the last two decades there has been a growing emphasis on the professional skills that engineering graduates should posses to better function in an industry environment. Recent research primarily emphasizes the importance of communication, people skills, and leadership abilities of engineering undergraduates. While colleges and universities try to improve the qualities of their graduates, there is much to do for the industry as well. To explore the role and the involvement of the industry in leadership development, eleven industry experts were interviewed. The results show that the industry experts see a lack of cooperation between the industry and engineering educators, real life examples/experiences were values much by the experts in the development of leadership skills. The industry experts agreed that there needs to be more involvement from the industry either self-initiated or initiated by engineering educators. A discussion of these issues and suggestions for improvement are also provided.

Introduction It is no secret that the educational process in this country has been rightfully or unrightfully criticized for many years1, 2. This criticism is stronger when it comes to “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” (STEM) education both at the K-12 and college level. While some of these criticisms came from educational groups, the industry that employs individuals with a college degree has also brought many criticisms and claimed that the higher education enterprise is not educating the engineers they need. Among those were the reports from ABET3, the National Academy of Engineering4 and the National Research Council 5. These reports also criticized higher education institutions for their lack of success in instilling leadership abilities along with other skills needed within recent engineering graduates. Some of these concerns from the industry focused on “soft skills”, what was called earlier, or “professional skills” of engineers. Among the professional skills one of the most studied attribute or skill is the engineers’ leadership abilities. Although there has been much emphasis recently on engineering students’ development of professional skills, only recently has an emphasis on engineering leadership education been explored6. With no consistent means of infusing leadership in engineering curricula, engineers have had to rely on studies that have attempted to define leadership 7, to distinguish differences between management and leadership attributes8, and to describe ways to incorporate leadership attributes into the curriculum9-11. Despite these studies, the definition of “leadership” within the context of engineering needs to be examined from the perspectives of practicing engineers who have demonstrated leadership in their environments. Colleges and universities are responsible for educating students to be proficient in their areas of expertise. However, it should not be ignored that industry should also play an important role in the development of these skills and should engage with higher education institutions to help graduates “hit the ground running” in their first few months of the job. Rather than highlighting the types of leadership skills that are needed from engineers or the complains of industry, this

Cekic, O., & Cox, M., & Zhu, J. (2010, June), Industry Participation In The Development Of Engineers As Leaders In Work Environments Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16119

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015