Building Engineering Leaders
The Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program is committed to developing next-generation technical leaders who are equipped to understand and address significant engineering problems in real-world situations.
Launched through a $20 million gift (with a matching requirement) by the Gordon Foundation—the largest gift made to MIT's School of Engineering for curriculum development—the program aims to ensure that MIT continues to lead the nation in graduating effective engineering leaders.
The Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program fosters new approaches that prepare the nation's young engineering leaders for productive and effective careers in engineering companies and continues MITís rich, innovative tradition of engineering leadership.
To develop the potential leaders of engineering innovation, invention, and implementation, the program works both with students enrolled at MIT and beyond the Institute with industry.
MIT students can engage with the program in many ways, all designed to help participating students develop the Capabilities of Effective Engineering Leaders.
Students start engaging GEL in their Sophomore year, with UPOP, the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program. Setting the stage for GEL Year One, UPOP introduces students to engineering practice. UPOP'ers receive personalized coaching, a summer internship, post-internship reflective activities, and hone basic interpersonal proficiencies such as effective networking, building a impactful resume and other career-enhancing skills.
Juniors and Seniors who complete UPOP or who qualify on the basis of experience on an engineering project in an industrial or academic setting can apply for the GEL Year One program. Accepted students participate in interactive short courses providing frameworks, models, and cases on engineering leadership.
GELs apply and practice these approaches in weekly Engineering Leadership Labs (ELLs). They participate in guided reflection on their successes and discover opportunities for improvement. Mentors, ELP faculty and staff, fellow students and program alumni provide guidance in reflecting on and learning from leadership experiences.
Students who successfully complete the first year program requirements may elect to apply for GEL Year Two. Students selected for GEL Year Two participate in a more intense manner and with additional leadership responsibilities in short courses, ELLs, mentored leadership development experiences and an InternshipPlus.
The Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program also impacts MIT students who do not formally participate in UPOP or GEL: Aided by ELP staff, specially trained TAs, or experienced GELs, MIT faculty can integrate into their engineering classes the program's Engineering Leadership, Effective Teamwork, Project Planning and Project Engineering modules, activities and workshops. ELP also lends vital support to MIT Project Teams.
Beyond MIT, the program partners with industry to develop the leadership skills of their young engineers and with like-minded academic institutions throughout North America to advance the practical and pedagogical principles of engineering leadership.
This internal and external focus allows the program to meet its mission to:
- Educate and develop the character of outstanding MIT students as potential future leaders in the world of engineering practice and development; and
- Transform engineering leadership in the nation, thereby significantly increasing its product development capability.
"The Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program is an example of how MIT is working to empower today's engineering undergraduates with critical leadership skills that will help them to become tomorrow's engineering leaders."
— Dr. Charles Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering and former President, MIT
The program goals are to:
- Prepare all MIT engineering students to be more inclined to contribute to engineering innovation, invention and implementation efforts, and to be more effective contributors to such efforts.
- Educate and prepare the potential future leaders of engineering innovation, invention and implementation efforts.
- Increase the focus of national engineering education on the development of leaders of engineering innovation, invention and implementation (EIII).
"In the past those engineers who mastered the principles of business and management were rewarded with leadership roles. This will be no different in the future. However, with the growing interdependence between technology and the economic and social foundations of modern society, there will be an increasing number of opportunities for engineers to exercise their potential as leaders, not only in business but also in the nonprofit and government sectors.
"In preparation for this opportunity, engineers must understand the principles of leadership and be able to practice them in growing proportions as their careers advance."
— National Academy of Engineering. The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2004.