Asee peer logo

Purdue University’s Engineering Leadership Program: Addressing the Shortfall of Engineering Leadership Education

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Engineering Leadership Development Division Technical Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1011.1 - 23.1011.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Amadin Osagiede Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Amadin Osagiede is a master's student in civil engineering at Purdue University and a graduate research assistant for Engineering Leadership at Purdue's newly created engineering leadership development program.

visit author page


Monica Farmer Cox Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Dr. Monica F. Cox is an associate professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and is the inaugural director of the Engineering Leadership Minor. 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 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career (CAREER) award winner and is a recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

visit author page


Benjamin Ahn Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Benjamin Ahn is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He received his B.E. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of New South Wales Australia, and a M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering from Purdue University. His research interests include identifying effective mentoring skills in undergraduate research settings, exploring leadership development of undergraduates, and determining professional engineering practices in universities and industries. Ahn's research has been strongly motivated by challenging, exciting, and inspiring experiences he has had as a teaching assistant in first-year engineering classes and as a graduate assistant for Purdue's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program and Purdue's Minority Engineering Program (MEP).

visit author page

Download Paper |


A University’s Engineering Leadership Program Addressing the Shortfall of Engineering Leadership EducationThe interdependency of technical and socioeconomic problem solving has increased the need forengineers, inherent problem solvers, to improve the development of their “soft skills”; a pointremarkably made by David Bayless and T. Richard Robe of the Robe Leadership Institute atOhio University[1]. Engineering leadership education should lie at the intersection of theoreticalconceptualization and practical implementation; an experiential education in other words. Yet forthe most part, engineering students are not exposed to formal studies in leadership[1]. Satisfyingthe societal demand of engineering leadership education is commonly limited to introductory-level coursework in technical communication in most engineering curricula[1]. In recognition ofthis problem, several institutions have developed engineering leadership minors or certificateprograms that focus on developing engineering students within a larger context of beneficialleadership skill sets.A lingering issue arises from that fact that the knowledge explosion in recent years has not led toa substantial reorganization of material but to an increase in the number of courses in acurriculum within the same amount of time[5]. An engineering leadership program would demandstudents taking additional courses or partaking in professional experiences that may overload thecurriculum and delay graduation. For this reason, most engineering curricula focus on producingtechnical excellence[1,2].The purpose of this paper is to revisit the state of engineering leadership education in academiaand to introduce a College of Engineering’s recently endorsed Engineering Leadership Minor. Apotential model to address the shortfall of experiential engineering leadership education withintraditional engineering curricula, this minor, which is one element of a larger engineeringleadership program, will involve the use of coursework, discussions, one-on-one mentoring bydistinguished leaders, guest speakers, and job-shadowing to provide engineering students withunderstanding and experience applying engineering leadership principles, practices, and tools ina multicultural context. This model will reinforce the educational process by encouragingstudents to mentor younger students after their first year in the program and by allowing studentsto facilitate their engineering leadership training. Students will supplement the required sevencredits in engineering leadership core courses with nine credits in elective courses in areas suchas communication, global society and context, creativity and innovation, and ethics.Unlike many programs that engage engineering students in activities during their junior or senioryears,[3,4,6] this engineering leadership program will target first-year engineering students withconsideration given to sophomores and graduate students on a case-by-case basis. Such a focuswill minimize the burden on the engineering curriculum and will ensure thorough leadershiptraining for enrolled students. The focus on first-year students also allows for utilization of theentire duration of students’ time in school to distribute the engineering leadership course loadand professional requirements in a manner that complements their engineering curriculum.Authors anticipate that the proposed program will provide success stories about theimplementation of leadership development through coursework, guest speakers, and mentorshipwhile recognizing the value of exposing engineering students to leadership early in their collegecareers.References:[1] Bayless, D. J., & Robe, T. R. (2010). Leadership Education for Engineering Students. Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2010 IEEE, (pp. S2J-1 - S2J-6).[2] National Academy of Engineering. 2004. The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century. The National Academies Press, p. 50.[3] Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program, School of Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, URL:, 2012.[4] Engineering Leadership Development Minor, School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs, Pennsylvania State University, URL:, 2012[5] J., H. (2005). Engineering Education:Research and Development in Curriculum and Instruction (1 ed.). Wiley-IEEE Press.[6] Burton, L. C., Soper, G. J., & Matson, J. V. (1996). Penn State's Engineering Leadership Development Minor. Proceedings of the 1996 26th Annual Conference on Frontiers in Education, FIE'96. Part 3 (of 3) (pp. 1129-1131). Salt Lake City, UT: IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, United States.

Osagiede, A., & Cox, M. F., & Ahn, B. (2013, June), Purdue University’s Engineering Leadership Program: Addressing the Shortfall of Engineering Leadership Education Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22396

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: © 2013 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