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Observations of the Application and Success of Leadership Development Tools with Undergraduate Engineering Education

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Engineering Leadership Development: Theories, Models, Frameworks, and Tools

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development Division

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Paper Authors


J. S.. Shelley California State University, Long Beach

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J. S. Shelley, Ph.D., P.E.
Detailed from the Air Force Research Laboratory on an Intergovernmental Personnel Agreement, Dr Shelley is the Faculty Lead in Mechanical Engineering for CSU Long Beach's Antelope Valley Engineering Programs, ABET assessment coordinator and Student Success Champion. She has been teaching for CSULB since Fall 2011.

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Kenneth Wayne Santarelli P.E. California State University, Long Beach

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Dr. Santarelli received an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership and an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University. He received a B.S. in Engineering (Ocean Engineering) from California State University and is a licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer. He is currently employed by California State University, Fresno as the Director of the Antelope Valley Engineering Program located in Lancaster California.

Dr. Santarelli retired from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2007 after 27 years working on a variety of Propulsion and Power Programs including the Stage IV of the Peacekeeper, several “Star Wars” programs, Atlas, Delta, Space Shuttle Main Engines, and the International Space Station, the last 20 years being in management and leadership roles. He has also served as a commissioned officer in the NOAA Officer Corps and worked for ITT General Controls in the power, process, and pipeline industries. He is also a U.S. Air Force veteran having served in the Viet Nam conflict.

Dr. Santarelli has received numerous awards including the Boeing Leadership Excellence Award, NASA Space Flight Awareness Team and Appreciation Awards as well as Rocketdyne Outstanding Achievement Awards for various program activities. He is currently serving as a Director on the Antelope Valley Board of Trade and was the Honorary Commander of the 412th Electronic Warfare Group at Edwards AFB. Most recently, Dr. Santarelli was honored as the 2016 CSULB College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus. He is also a member of several professional societies and has authored and co-authored several papers pertaining to the Antelope Valley Engineering Program.

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Christopher R. Warren California State University, Long Beach

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Amelia Bahrami California State University, Long Beach

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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. 10.18260/1-2--28713

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: © 2017 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