At a recent lead­er­ship “boot camp” for third– and fourth-​​year engi­neering stu­dents at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, the par­tic­i­pants were asked to list what char­ac­ter­is­tics define a leader. The answers included “good lis­tener,” “deci­sive,” “multi-​​tasker,” “adapt­able,” and “able to inspire.”

It was the start of a larger con­ver­sa­tion meant to expose stu­dents to lead­er­ship devel­op­ment con­cepts as they pre­pare for their next co-​​op expe­ri­ences, but also to high­light the University’s inno­v­a­tive Gordon Engi­neering Lead­er­ship Pro­gram.

Estab­lished in 2007 through a gift from the Gordon Foun­da­tion, the pro­gram offers early-​​career engi­neers a unique graduate-​​level track within the Col­lege of Engi­neering that aims to develop tech­ni­cally com­pe­tent engi­neering leaders.

Stu­dents, known as Gordon Fel­lows, usu­ally enter the inten­sive one-​​year pro­gram via an employer spon­sor­ship. Employers ben­efit from the oppor­tu­nity to gain lead­er­ship prepa­ra­tion for a promising engi­neer, and also from a crit­ical pro­gram require­ment: the suc­cessful com­ple­tion of an engi­neering Chal­lenge Project. The project must be market-​​worthy, tech­no­log­i­cally fea­sible and of sig­nif­i­cant impor­tance to the fellow’s employer.

The cur­riculum fea­tures two courses that broaden the knowl­edge base and lead­er­ship and tech­nology devel­op­ment skills the stu­dents will need to create an achiev­able and demanding project plan. The Engi­neering Lead­er­ship course focuses on areas such as lead­er­ship qual­i­ties, product engi­neering, and market assess­ment, while the Sci­en­tific Foun­da­tions of Engi­neering course pro­vides stu­dents with an under­standing of how to eval­uate new technologies.

The pro­gram also incor­po­rates a strong men­toring com­po­nent, in which fel­lows interact with pro­fes­sional engi­neering leaders.

Gordon Fel­lows earn a grad­uate cer­tifi­cate in engi­neering lead­er­ship and typ­i­cally take courses to earn a master’s degree in the engi­neering dis­ci­pline of their choice. (Those who have already earned a grad­uate degree, how­ever, only take the one-​​year cer­tifi­cate program.)

The pro­gram equips aspiring engi­neering leaders with the ability to accel­erate the devel­op­ment of their lead­er­ship skills in an engi­neering con­text,” said Simon Pitts, the pro­gram director. “This is a win-​​win for the Gordon Fel­lows and their employers. At the end of the pro­gram, they are as effec­tive in the delivery of prod­ucts and tech­nolo­gies meeting per­for­mance, busi­ness and time to market goals as if they had been leading suc­cessful engi­neering projects for many years.”

The boot camps are just one way that pro­gram leaders hope to raise aware­ness of lead­er­ship con­cepts and ener­gize under­grad­u­ates to con­sider pur­suing the visionary pro­gram. The second lead­er­ship boot camp is Friday, June 4. For more infor­ma­tion on the lead­er­ship boot camp, con­tact Kristin Hicks at khicks@​coe.​neu.​edu.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Gordon Engi­neering Lead­er­ship pro­gram, visit http://​www​.censsis​.neu​.edu/​g​o​r​d​o​n​f​e​l​l​o​w​s​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​php.