Leadership Development in FYD

Leadership development of the students has always been a constant theme throughout the Introduction to Engineering Design course.  Before Fall 2012, we used the first three weeks of the semester to “tell” students about leadership and teamwork, and we included some team-building activities during this time.  However, we rarely saw the students transfer the knowledge from that part of the course into later parts of the course, particularly when they encountered challenging interpersonal situations.  For many students, this course is the first time they are working on a project of this scale with a group of people that have different disciplinary interests.   Particularly for students who take the course in the fall of their first year of college, it is unlikely they know any of their team members as well.

Naturally, students will encounter interpersonal situations that require them to marshal a wide range of leadership skills.  So, it is important to start the awareness and development of those skills even in the first semester of undergraduate study.  These range from basic presentation skills to how to deal with conflict and tension on the team.  Throughout my involvement, we worked closely with the Hart Center for Engineering leadership to develop strategies to aid in this objective including retrospectives, routine check-ins with a mentor teaching assistant, team chartering exercises, and other similar things.  Many of the leadership development components were woven into and aligned with our home-spun version of SCRUM, a popular project management methodology widely used in software development.

Below are some of the handouts and materials we used throughout the course related to leadership development: