June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Engineering Leadership Development Division
This paper documents the purposeful design and results of the application of sets of leadership development tools to a unique cohort-based undergraduate upper division program. The program is not targeting high-GPA, honors track, or other special categories. It has been designed with the goal of transforming average engineering transfer students into graduates capable of rapidly assimilating into high performing professional environments. The program design was informed by an industry/community needs assessment as well as accreditation (ABET) standards. Program design addresses leadership, professionalism, and communication skill with equal importance to the engineering skills. The sets of tools applied include leadership development tools such a personality assessment (MBTI), a proprietary strength finder tool, and curriculum tools such as active learning strategies, learning communities and technical presentation experiences. Expectations for professionalism and leadership are set at an academic orientation, while personal professional development and group dynamics are introduced during a cohort workshop. Personality and StrengthsFinder™ results exist for 130 incoming juniors in both mechanical and electrical engineering. Only the mechanical engineering students have been observed through senior design class and graduation. Assigning senior design project groups, rather than allowing self-selection, is another tool used to develop leadership within the cohort learning community. Over the span of six senior design courses with a total of 50+ mechanical engineering majors, students have been exposed to leadership development through group dynamics activities and leadership strategies through the Gallop Organization’s Strengths-Based Leadership paradigm. The StrengthsFinder™ provides a vocabulary of 34 signature themes that define individual innate talents that are grouped into four leadership activity categories. The strategic thinking category has the most student-reported talents while the influencing category has the least. Of the potentially 250 opportunities to observe a reported talent with the 50 students in this study, the empathy talent, grouped in the relationship building leadership activity category has occurred only once, while learner talent, in the strategic thinking category, has occurred 41 times. Survey results from a leadership orientation for incoming juniors indicate strong self-efficacy in communication and leadership skills. Observations from the cohorts in senior design class indicate that classes with a greater diversity of talents reported tend to work better together and submit more thorough design reports, regardless of mix of personality (MBTI) results. Senior exit survey and ABET assessment survey data indicate strong awareness and self-efficacy in ABET a-k outcomes. Industry partners have reported very high satisfaction with both interns and alumni. One highlight of the program outcomes is a near 100% employment rate of students upon graduation and a 97%+ retention rate while matriculating. The experiment of assigning senior project design groups based on strengths theme results will continue and the cohort 5 rising juniors have expressed relief at the prospect of having design groups assigned rather than self-selecting.
Shelley, J. S., & Santarelli, K. W., & Warren, C. R., & Bahrami, A. (2017, June), Observations of the Application and Success of Leadership Development Tools with Undergraduate Engineering Education Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28713
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