Perspectives on Defining Engineering Leadership

Perspectives on Defining Engineering Leadership

R. Paul, L. Falls (2015).  Perspectives on Defining Engineering Leadership. 11.

Engineers are no longer only involved with the technical project details, but must also understand the broader picture as they are often acting as team leaders [1]. Consequently, there is a need to educate engineers not just in physics and mathematics, but also in many non-technical areas, including globalization, communication, and leadership [2]. This is being recognized worldwide, including in the second edition of “Rethinking Engineering Education”, where an extension was added to the CDIO Syllabus for Leadership [3].

One of the difficulties in the field of engineering leadership education is the need to clearly define engineering leadership and the skills required to be a leader in engineering [4]. A stronger understanding of these terms will help institutions to develop and improve engineering leadership education programs and to achieve the CDIO Syllabus for Leadership.

Leadership has been studied since the beginning of civilization, and there are many definitions and theories of leadership that have evolved over time. However, only recently has the term engineering leadership been introduced. The aim of this research is to answer the following: from the perspective of engineering students, academics, and professionals, what is engineering leadership and what skills are required to be a leader in engineering?

Engineering students, professionals, and academics are to be surveyed to understand their perspective on engineering leadership and the skills required to be a leader in engineering. Approximately 30 participants from each population will be recruited, a sample size based on John Creswell’s recommendations for grounded theory [5]. The survey responses will be coded using the qualitative constant comparative method as outlined by Glaser [6]. Proximity analysis will then be used to compare the resulting definition themes and skills to the original data, providing an overview of the themes and skills that are frequently used together.

The resulting definitions and skills from the different populations will provide insight to the variances in perspectives. The findings are expected to help to develop and improve engineering leadership education programs by setting a baseline for the programs. As well, the identified skills of engineering leaders will provide specific examples of program activities that will teach leadership skills and provide guidance to measurable program outcomes.

[1] Kumar, S., & Hsiao, J. K. (2007). Engineers learn “soft skills the hard way”: Planting a seed of leadership in engineering classes. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 7(1), 18-23. [2] Galloway, P. D. (Ed.). (2007). The 21st-century engineer: A proposal for engineering education reform. ASCE Publications. [3] Crawley E.F., Malmqvist, J., Ostlund, S., Brodeur, D.R., & Edstrom, K. (2014) Rethinking Engineering Education (2nd ed.). Springer. [4] Ahn, B., Cox, M., London, J., Cekic, O., & Zhu, J. (2014). Creating an Instrument to Measure Leadership, Change, and Synthesis in Engineering Undergraduates. Journal of Engineering Education, 103(1), 115-136. [5] Creswell, J. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [6] Glaser, B. (1978). Theoretical Sensitivity: Advances in methodology of grounded theory. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.

Proceedings of the 11th International CDIO Conference, Chengdu, China, June 8-11 2015

Authors (New): 
Robyn Paul
Lynne Cowe Falls
University of Calgary, Canada
Engineering Leadership
leadership skills
Student perspective
Qualitative Content Analysis
CDIO Syllabus Extension
CDIO Standard 3
CDIO Standard 7
Ahn, B., Cox, M. F., London, J., Cekic, O., & Zhu, J. (2014). Creating an Instrument to Measure Leadership, Change, and Synthesis in Engineering Undergraduates. Journal of Engineering Education, 103(1), 115–136. : 
Cowe Falls, L., Paul, R., & Aker, G. (2015). Developing a New Generation of Leadership at the University of Calgary: Case Study on the Maier Student Leadership Program. Paper presented at the 122nd American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference: 
Crawley, E. F., Lucas, W. A., Malmqvist, J., & Brodeur, D. R. (2011). The CDIO Syllabus v2.0: An Updated Statement of Goals for Engineering Education. In International CDIO Conference. Denmark, Copenhagen. : 
Crawley, E. F., Malmqvist, J., Östlund, S., Brodeur, D. R., & Edström, K. (2014). Rethinking Engineering Education: The CDIO Approach (2nd Ed.). Springer International Publishing. : 
Elo, S., & Kyngäs, H. (2008). The qualitative content analysis process. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 62(1), 107–115.: 
Fakeh, S. S. K. W., Shahibi, M. S., Jamaludin, A., Rahim, M. R., Paiman, J., & Ibrahim, Z. (2014). Understanding Leadership Values Among Under Graduate Students in UITM: Their Values, Beliefs, and Motivation. International Journal of Innovative Research in Computer Science & Technology, 2(3), 1–6. : 
Gordon-MIT. (2011). Capabilities of Effective Engineering Leadership. Bernard M. GordonMIT Engineering Leadership Program. : 
Hillmer, G., Wiedenbrueg, R., & Bunz, a. (2012). Chapter 26: Competences Required by Industry from Early- Career Engineering Graduates – Developing Management & Leadership Skills in Engineering Education. Innovations, 291–304. : 
Karim, A. A., Abdullah, N., Rahman, A. A., Noah, S. M., Jaafar, W. W., Othman, J., & ... Said, H. (2012). A Nationwide Comparative Study between Private and Public University Students' Soft Skills. Asia Pacific Education Review, 13(3), 541-548. : 
Litzinger, T. A., Lattuca, L. R., Hadgraft, R. G., Newstetter, W. C., Alley, M., Atman, C., & … Yasuhara, K. (2011). Engineering education and the development of expertise. Journal of Engineering Education, 100(1), 123-150. : 
Martello, R., & Stolk, J. (2007). Paul revere in the science lab: Integrating humanities and engineering pedagogies to develop skills in contextual understanding and self-directed learning. Paper presented at the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings. : 
NSPE. (2010). NSPE Position Statement No . 1752 — Engineering Education Outcomes. Retrieved from downloadables/Engineering_Education_Outcomes.pdf : 
Paul, R., & Cowe Falls., L. (2015). Student Perspective on Defining Engineering Leadership. Paper presented at the 122nd American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference. : 
Teerijoki, H., & Murdock, K. A. (2014). Assessing the role of the teacher in introducing entrepreneurial education in engineering and science courses. International Journal of Management Education, 12(3), 479-489. : 
Zhang, Y., & Wildemuth, B. M. (2009). Qualitative Analysis of Content. In Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science (pp. 308– 319). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. : 
Go to top