Developing Leadership Skills of Undergraduate Engineering Students: Perspectives from Engineering Faculty

  • Monica F Cox
  • Osman Cekic
  • Stephanie G Adams


The engineering education community (motivated by internal and external factors) has begun to focus on leadership abilities of college students in engineering fields via reports from ABET, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Research Council. These reports have directed criticism toward higher education institutions for their lack of success in instilling leadership abilities within recent engineering graduates. Recognizing the importance of leadership development among undergraduate engineering students, researchers in the current study interviewed twelve engineering faculty at a Midwestern university about ways that leadership might be incorporated into engineering curricula given the current environment of engineering and engineering facultys roles and responsibilities. An idea emerging from the interviews includes an integration of leadership topics into current courses and in capstone courses. Faculty also noted the importance of real-life experiences and extracurricular activities in students leadership development. Additional barriers to incorporating leadership into undergraduate engineering experiences are discussed.