White Paper on Engineering Leadership Education

Posted on November 3, 2009  Comments (4)

Engineering leadership education is emerging as a topic in engineering institutions worldwide. But the review of international “best practices” in engineering leadership education says a lack of resources, expertise, and formal networks in the nascent field is causing concern in a profession threatened by a diminishing focus on the notion of the “engineer-as-doer.”

Commissioned by the Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program, the new white paper, Engineering Leadership Education: A Snapshot”© Review”© of International Good”© Practice, reveals that the vast majority of engineering leadership education programs are based within the U.S. and most are relatively new (developed in the last five years). The white paper highlights the distinct divide between the U.S. and the rest of the world in both attitude and approach to engineering leadership education.

“As a sub-discipline, engineering leadership education is not yet on the radar of most engineering education experts outside the U.S.,” said Dr. Edward Crawley, Director of the Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program. “Certainly for many of the programs outside the U.S., there’s some discomfort with the notion of ‘leadership education’, as they feel this concept runs counter to their educational culture of inclusiveness and equality.”

The report was conducted by Dr. Ruth Graham in a series of interviews between September 2008 and March 2009. Dr. Graham investigated more than 40 programs, seeking to provide an insight into current practice, highlight international variations in approach, and identify examples of good practice.

One major ”©current ”©trend”© in ”©engineering”© leadership ”©education”© is ”©the ”©development ”©of”© the ”©students’”© global ”©awareness”© and”© their ”©ability ”©to ”©work ”©on ”©complex”©cross”national”© projects”© – ”©which”© is”© seen ”©by many”© as”© the ”©environment”© within ”©which”© the”© engineering ”©leader”© of ”©the ”©future ”©will ”©need ”©to ”©operate. ”©
Many”© of ”©the ”©programs ”©which ”©were ”©most ”©highly ”©rated ”©by ”©interviewees ”©incorporate ”©some”© global”© elements ”©either ”©through ”©international ”©travel, ”©remote”© link”ups”© with”© overseas”© universities/companies ”©or ”©project”© briefs”© involving ”©an”© international ”©or”© cross”cultural”© context.”© ”©The trend ”©towards”© a ”©more”© ‘global’ ”©view”© of ”©leadership ”©education”© was ”©seen ”©by ”©many ”©of ”©the”© interviewees”© as”© one”© that ”©would”© continue.”©

Launched through a $20 million gift by The Bernard M. Gordon Foundation, the Bernard M. Gordon – MIT Engineering Leadership Program is a new educational initiative at MIT whose goal is to help MIT’s undergraduate engineering students develop the skills, tools, and character they will need as future leaders in the world of engineering practice.

Related: Educating Engineers for 2020 and BeyondGlobal Engineering Education StudyUSA Losing Scientists and Engineers Educated in the USAInternational Engineering Education Data: USA, China, IndiaHouse Testimony on Engineering Education

4 Responses to “White Paper on Engineering Leadership Education”

  1. Bruce Mendelsohn
    November 3rd, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

    To further explain the goals of the Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program: It isn’t about being an entrepreneur. We leave that to other qualified programs, both at MIT and elsewhere.

    In some ways, the Gordon-MIT ELP responds to input from engineering industry professionals who–after having employed and worked with many MIT graduates–recommended that we teach real leadership: The kind that starts when students are first employed by a company and that is manifested by having the students learn to deliver a product on time, to budget and to spec… Not focused on how to *run* a company when they first graduate.

  2. dubli
    November 10th, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

    That is encouraging to see that a major ”©current ”©trend”© is the global ”©awareness”© and”© their ”©ability ”©to ”©work ”©on ”©complex”©cross”national”© projects.

  3. Richard
    December 3rd, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

    I’m a hands on sort of person, with a couple of degrees in Civil & Structural Engineering. Being based in the UK, I saw fit to leave the engineering profession, due to significant short-falls in the UK’s Engineering jobs market. With the ability to manage significant construction projects and solve problems on the ground, I found most of my time spent on low pay as a number cruncher/ design engineer. Prospects for Graduate Engineers in the UK are poor at best, with most opting for the financial sector as a suitable and more gratifying alternative. There’s a significant skills shortage in this country, simply due to a severe lack of structuring by relevant Chartered institutions and their associated employers.

    However, I now find myself in a position to use my skills to their fullest, unfortunately in a somewhat different professional- running my own business recycling business waste. Ironic that such a skillset would come in extremely useful in an emerging industry!

    Richard Tanfield-Johnson
    BEng (Hons), MSc (Eng)

  4. Haris Khan
    December 21st, 2010 @ 12:52 am

    I have faced a similar kind of experience from the surrounding regarding a computer science degree in Pakistan , in my experience it took me a little time to get good pay and by the time was able to start up with own business, (WebMarketerz). engineers are of the most respected professionals, the point is if you pursue just one engineering field the I am sure that you will have a market worth after some time. its just about comparing a guy with 5 years experiences in five different fields of engineering and the one with 5 years experience in just one thing.

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