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Integrating a Capstone Leadership Project and the S-Triangle Pedagogy to Guide Engineering Leadership Development Education

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Curriculum Development in Engineering Leadership

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development Division

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Paper Authors


David Bayless Ohio University

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Dr. Bayless is the Gerald Loehr Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Director of Ohio University’s Coal Research Center, part of Ohio University’s Center of Excellence in Energy and the Environment. He is also the director of the Robe Leadership Institute and director of the Center for Algal Engineering Research and Commercialization (an Ohio Third Frontier Wright Project) He is engaged in the development of energy and environmental technology such as producing algal-based fuels coupled with mitigation of greenhouse gases, bioreactor design, novel fluidized bed gasification, thermal processing of solid fuels, and adapting planar solid oxide fuel cells to coal-derived syngas. He has been principal investigator for over $18 million in externally funded research, holds several patents with three revenue generating licenses and one spin-off company, and over 60 peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Bayless formerly worked for American Electric Power (Gavin and Amos Plants) and was an officer in the United States Navy. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Profs. Richard Buckius and James Peters, advisors.) He was the technical administrator of the State of Ohio’s Coal Research Consortium, funded by the Ohio Coal Development Office, from 2000-2007. He consults for several industrial, financial and legal firms. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Missouri and Ohio and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and of the National Academy of Inventors. He has twice won the Ohio University Russ College of Engineering’s Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award. He is also the founding Director of the American Society for Engineering Education’s Division for Engineering Leadership Development.

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Integrating a Capstone Leadership Project and the S-Triangle Pedagogy to Guide Engineering Leadership Development Education

This paper presents the methodology for using an integrated approach of teaching leadership development through an overarching capstone project to inform the teaching/learning of the understanding self, style, and situation, also known as the leadership “S-triangle.” In this model, the “needs” of instruction for performance of the capstone leadership project are delivered in a just-in-time basis to reinforce leadership development. While the study of leadership styles and characteristics, understanding of self, and situational strategies is not unique, the integrated approach guided by a capstone project has quantifiably improved student self-reported satisfaction with the class, as well as perceived understanding of leadership concepts.

This paper also present the details of the pedagogical approach, so that the reader can assess the potential for using this approach in their leadership development courses or coursework. In addition to reporting and explaining the reasoning for adopting this methods, this paper will present the assessment data indicating this approach has measureable improvement over the previous model used for engineering leadership development education.

The current working theory explaining why this approach has shown improvements in developing engineers as leaders will also be discussed. In addition to the fact that the approach itself allows for a greater “hands-on” learning, the students themselves reflected that the approach presents a more “formulaic” method to leadership compared to similar offerings they had received. They noted that while the approach is not truly algorithmic, it has aspects that are allow more logical thinkers to implement while developing the soft skills needed to be effective leaders. This paper will explore both the reasons for the student’s conclusions and how other programs could adapt this approach in a variety of leadership development situations.

Bayless, D. (2016, June), Integrating a Capstone Leadership Project and the S-Triangle Pedagogy to Guide Engineering Leadership Development Education Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25779

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