Evaluating the Effectiveness of an Undergraduate Engineering Leadership Development Minor on Graduates

John D. Stevens, Dena Lang, Meg Handley, John Jongho Park, Paul Mittan

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Leadership development programs aim to meet the professional development needs of our graduates while aligning program curriculum to the needs of our graduates' employers. This research paper reports assessment results from a survey of alumni from an undergraduate engineering leadership development (ELD) program as well as undergraduate engineering students not in the leadership program that served as comparisons. The overarching goal of the study was to assess the degree to which the program is meeting its leadership development goals, which include ensuring that the program targets the skills needed in today's workplace. Graduates of the ELDM program (n=147) and graduates not in the program (n = 133) were surveyed and compared to better understand the impact of the ELDM program on the development of skills needed for today's engineering work. Alumni from both groups were asked to rate their agreement with how well their undergraduate experience (and ELD minor specifically) prepared them for their professional career with respect to a number of leadership competencies: 1) leading teams (lead meetings, identify personality preferences and adjust environment/style) 2) think strategically by applying mission, vision, and values statements to a team or organization 3) work effectively in teams 4) apply project management processes to projects 5) give and receive feedback 6) self-reflection on leadership skills and how to improve 7) recognize ethical issues & practice ethical decision making 8) develop a culture that promotes creativity and innovation 9) cross cultural/global competencies (appreciation of other cultures, understanding bias, working in a culturally diverse team) 10) emotional intelligence (regulate emotions and manage conflict) 11) communicate effectively (oral and written, adapt to audience) 12) understand basic business concepts (finance, accounting, marketing, supply chain/operations) 13) confidence in taking initiative with new responsibilities within the organization. Ratings were made using a Likert scale: Extremely well, Fairly well, Moderate, Poorly, Not at all) for each skill separately. Both groups also rated the importance of each skill to their professional work. Differences in alumni's' evaluation of their undergraduate program's preparation for their professional career and importance of leadership skills were evaluated between engineering leadership development minor (ELDM) alumni compared to non-ELDM College of Engineering (CoE) alumni (CoE Comparison Group). Out of the 13 competencies listed above compared across the ELDM and the CoE Comparison groups, ELD minor participants consistently rated the ELD minor significantly higher than the CoE Comparison group ratings of their undergraduate program at preparing/enhancing their ability for their professional career regarding all the leadership competencies/learning outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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