Engineering Leadership Research Seminar – Understanding Leadership Identity and Leadership Development Experiences of Engineering Students

February 7, 2018 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
200 College St
Toronto, ON M5T 3A1

Only through successful collaborations from multi-disciplinary teams will society be able to solve our most complex engineering challenges. In order to be successful, these collaborations require effective technical leadership, a role that engineers can and should fill. However, for a variety of reasons, most engineering students complete their undergraduate degrees underprepared to begin assuming a leadership role. One reason for this lack of preparation is an apparent conflict between the development of an engineering identity and a leadership identity. This work recognizes that formation of engineers is fundamentally an identity development process and seeks to leverage this process to better prepare engineers as leaders. The work combines two models: Lave and Wenger’s communities of practice model to understand development of an engineering identity and Komives, et al.’s Leadership Identity Model to understanding how engineering students cultivate a self-concept as a leader. This presentation explores the development of identity using data from two national data sets of U.S. college students’ leadership experiences and self-reported identities. Using this data, we explore the differences in experiences and identities for engineering student vs. their peers in other STEM fields and non-STEM majors. This includes an exploration of differences based on ethnicity, gender, and other key demographics. By improving our understanding of leadership identity and the impact of leadership experiences, we seek to design improved ways to develop leadership skills and identity in all future engineers.


William (Bill) Schell

William “Bill” Schell is holds a Ph.D. in Industrial & Systems Engineering – Engineering Management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and M.S. and B.S. degrees in Industrial & Management Engineering from Montana State University (MSU). He is currently Assistant Professor in Industrial & Management Systems Engineering and Associate Director of the Montana Engineering Education Research Center at MSU. His research includes methods of organizational improvement, leadership development, and engineering education with support from industry and the National Science Foundation. Prior to his academic career, he spent 14 years in industry where he held leadership positions focused on process improvement and organizational development with Fortune 50 and Inc. 500 companies. He is a registered Professional Engineer, certified Professional Engineering Manager and Six Sigma Master Blackbelt. He serves the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM) as the Director of Student Membership and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) as Past Chair of the Engineering Management Division and Director of Scholarly Activity for the Engineering Leadership Development Division. His prior work on leadership has received recognition with the Eschenbach Award for 2014 from the Engineering Management Journal (with Kuntz), ASEE’s Engineering Leadership Development Division 2016 Best Paper Award (with Kauffmann), and the Merritt Williamson Best Paper Award from ASEM’s International Annual Conference in 2017 (with Hughes).

Mark your calendars for our other seminars:

Date/TimeLocationSpeaker(s)Institutional AffiliationSeminar Title
October 18, 2017
WB215Gregg Warnick & Alan ParkinsonCollege of Engineering and Technology, Brigham Young UniversityTaking the Road Less Traveled: Institutionalizing Leadership Development at a Large College of Engineering and Technology
November 16, 2017
WB215Gerard SeijtsIvey Business School, Western UniversityWhat is Leader Character and How Does It Influence How We Lead?
January 11, 2018
WB215Mary CrossanIvey Business School, Western UniversityElevating & Activating Leader Character Alongside Competence
February 7, 2018
WB215Bill SchellCollege of Engineering, Montana State UniversityUnderstanding Leadership Identity and Leadership Development Experiences of Engineering Students
March 7, 2018
GB202Erin A. CechDepartment of Sociology, University of MichiganProfessional Culture and Inequality in Engineering
April 11, 2018
WB215Alison OlechowskiMIE & ILead, University of TorontoLeadership and Decision-making in Complex Engineering Design Projects