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Transforming Cultures in Industry: Building Leadership Attitudes and Skills for Working Adult Graduate Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Innovative College-Industry Partnerships for the Future

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1546.1 - 22.1546.14



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Paper Authors


Ronald J. Bennett Univeristy of Saint Thomas

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Ronald J. Bennett, Ph.D., is Honeywell Fellow in Global Technology Management in the School of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas after having served as the Founding Dean. He holds a Ph.D. in Metallurgical Engineering and an M.B.A. With a background of more than 20 years in industry, Bennett teaches and publishes on diverse topics including materials engineering, technical innovation, technology transfer, leadership and engineering education. He is an EAC of ABET commissioner for SME.

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Elaine R. Millam University of Saint Thomas

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Dr. Elaine Millam is a senior consultant, executive coach and educator with over 35 years of leadership experience in the private, public, and non-profit sectors, developing the leadership capacity to create high performing organizations and facilitating leadership teams to do likewise. She has earned a reputation for her leadership with female leaders, coaching them to live into their greatest potential. She uses an integrated model that balances the inside-out and outside-in approach to developing leaders. She has earned graduate degrees in Educational Psychology, Industrial Relations, and Organizational Leadership. She is a published author of several articles and two books.

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TRANSFORMING CULTURES IN INDUSTRY: BUILDING LEADERSHIP ATTITUDES AND SKILLS FOR WORKING ADULT GRADUATE STUDENTSCreating more productive engineering organizations in industry requires transforming cultures.Change of this magnitude requires champions, leaders who have the confidence and courage to makea difference, no matter where they are in the organizational structure. The attitudes and skillsrequired to take on this task have been demonstrated by alumni of our graduate program who havedeveloped new ways of thinking through our leadership development process.At the ASEE annual conference in 2004, a paper was presented on the motivation for and the designof a series of courses that helped working adult graduate students assess their leadership capacityand skills, discussed the nature of the course and reported the results observed at that time.We have now documented the students’ stories of real-time learning and leading to help everyoneknow just how this process affects life-long results. Six additional years of results have beenobserved and recorded. Longitudinal research, focusing on interviews with alumni of the program,has been conducted and show remarkable demonstrated growth in their leadership progress and theresulting effects in their organizations. Accelerated by intentional self reflection and the creation oflifelong learning roadmaps, these alumni are now living their plan, demonstrating their leadership,and stretching themselves to develop others..At the time of the initial survey, students were excited about their learning pursuits, engaging othersto support them and beginning to demonstrate their leadership talents as they learned, stretched andgrew. They were feeling real strength and power in coming to better understand themselves andtaking charge of their own learning outcomes. With an additional six years experience, the power ofthis approach in releasing the leaders within is becoming much more clear and compelling. Alumniof this program are now convinced that this course has had a profound effect on the way they viewthe world as an interconnected system, on their role to lead and make a difference, and as a result haschanged the way they think and act.During the past year the authors have also conducted surveys of engineering school deans todetermine their views on the need for leadership education for engineers, and on their currentcapacity to deliver this kind of education. While only 25% of the schools responding said theyoffered leadership education for their graduate students, fully 100% felt leadership education forengineers was important. This paper will provide additional evidence of the success of the approachtaken, and the need to expand to other adult practicing engineers to become leaders, and show aproven process for delivering graduate leadership education to engineers. 429 words

Bennett, R. J., & Millam, E. R. (2011, June), Transforming Cultures in Industry: Building Leadership Attitudes and Skills for Working Adult Graduate Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18404

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