Engineering Leadership for Mid-Career Professionals
Date: June 23-27, 2014 | Tuition: $4,800 | Continuing Education Units (CEUs): 2.9
*This course has limited enrollment. Apply early to guarantee your spot.
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An engineering career involves the acquisition of new knowledge and perspective while simultaneously improving the skills in one’s toolkit. A mature engineer knows himself and learns to work as an integral part of a team. In the same way that doctors practice medicine or lawyers practice law, engineers practice engineering, always improving and learning and progressing along the experience curve. In addition to technical competence, an effective engineer has leadership and communication skills that enhance his/her ability to be an individual contributor, team member, or team leader.
The career trajectory of an engineer often begins as an individual working as part of a group, progressing in one’s early career to perhaps managing the work of others. Mid-career engineering professionals often become “managers of managers,” needing to effectively shape a vision and strategy and then step away from the engineering, allowing others to directly move work forward and identify the first-line problems that need to be addressed. As distinguished from early career professionals, mid-career professionals are confronted with internal organizational issues involving the discipline and the development of others. In addition, engineering activities results in a worldwide impact. Mid-career professionals must be prepared to interact with diverse customers in a global economy and to build and lead teams across time zones and cultures.
Mid-career responsibilities increase significantly, with considerably more and different types of resources involved; risks are greater, and many more interfacing organizations must be consulted. Mid-career engineers are often required to represent the company's and the project's interests in meetings with the customer/end-user both at the organization's headquarters and at those of the customer. Interactions with the end-item user/customer must be handled effectively with a willingness to see the problems from the user's/customer's viewpoint. Many contributing project resources must be integrated effectively, without the mass of detail overwhelming the engineer. Effective leadership must be asserted to encourage innovative design approaches by subordinates, instead of simply superimposing all the details from above; creative approaches should be planted in and encouraged from subordinates, giving credit to the subordinate when adopted. The morale of one’s subordinates serves as an indicator of leadership performance: are they looking forward to working together on the next project, or are they looking for another job?
The course faculty are drawn from the Bernard M. Gordon—MIT Engineering Leadership Program, and the foundation for the ideas and content for this course are drawn from Bernard M. Gordon’s keynote “What is an Engineer?” delivered at the 1984 European Society for Engineering Annual Conference held at the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg.
Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (20%)
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (40%)
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (40%)
Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (30%)
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (35%)
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (35%)
Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (10%)
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (80%)
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (10%)
The participants of this course will be able to:
- Apply principles of leadership to influence others
- Recognize opportunities and options; manage risks
- Listen, understand, and communicate effectively with others across disciplines and cultures
- Think critically and develop plans in the face of uncertainty
- Develop others so as to enrich your organization
Who Should Attend
This course is targeted for mid-career engineers and scientists with 5-15 years of experience from across the disciplinary spectrum who, while experienced in project management, would like to widen their skill set to include tools to better equip them for mid-career challenges. This course would also be of interest to those who regularly interact with engineers and scientists in technical industries.
Those who should attend include: design engineers, research engineers, project engineers or managers, product engineers, members of the technical staff, applied scientists, and research scientists.
Day One – Engineering Leadership
Session 1 - (1.5 hours) Building Teams: recruiting team members with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to perform the designated tasks, as well as members who can be led to raise the level of their current capabilities. Why will quality knowledge workers want to leave their current position and join you?
Session 2 - (1.5 hours) Leading Quality: monitoring prowess in real terms by demanding attention to detail, maintaining time and budget schedules, and by delivering documented design, development, and production on time; inspiring and exhorting capable talent to perform beyond his (or her) recognizable limits; motivating each contributor to the project to want to excel, to grow, and to take personal pride in the project's successful completion. How can you most effectively motivate others to perform beyond their own expectations?
Session 3 - (1.5 hours) Lifelong Leadership Reflection and Legitimacy: the competence to complete a project on time, on budget and within scope are not the only abilities of a good project leader. A successful team leader is reflective and exhibits character, commitment, integrity, courage, creativity, vision, and passion. He/she engages, inspires, and empowers a team, leveraging team strengths to get the job done. What characterizes legitimate leadership (e.g. vs. positional power)? How does one reflect in a structured (engineered) manner?
Reflection (1 hour)
Session 4 - Case Study (1.5 hours)
Day Two – Strategic Thinking
Session 5 - (1.5 hours) Intelligent Risk-Taking: not waiting to be told to initiate the design of a new product, willing to take a risk upon which one’s professional reputation will be at stake, performing due diligence then accepting the responsibility and accountability for your decisions and actions. In an uncertain world, what prudent steps can be taken so you can sleep more soundly at night, not because you live in a risk free world, but because you have exercised a standard of care in addressing those risks?
Session 6 - (1.5 hours) Leveraging Creativity and Uncertainty with Real Options: leveraging the creative process and taking risks in exploring and/or inventing innovative designs and processes that may be needed in order to meet both immediate performance goals of new products and future needs. We invest regularly to protect against future states; what about investing in creative options to take advantage of future states?
Session 7 - (1.5 hours) Scenario Planning, Communication, and Commitment: developing defined visions of the future in order to advocate in a forceful, literate, and convincing way for adopting proposals as part of an accepted business plan (model) or as the start of new ventures (products); proposing, propagandizing, pleading, and debating for an improbable goal and succeeding, in spite of the opposition of doubters and the discouragement of setbacks, in bringing order out of chaos, in producing something that is new, and, in the process, advancing the state of the art of engineering. Imagining the future begins with an assessment of one’s current environment, leading to situational awareness which can be expanded to sense-making and prognostication.
Reflection (1 hour)
Session 8 - Case Study (1.5 hours)
Day Three – International Engineering
Session 9 - (1.5 hours) Assessment and Awareness: paying attention to your environment, observing behavioral signals above the noise, noticing slow subtle changes, soliciting data from others, and recognizing the power of instinct. Being aware of one’s surroundings.
Session 10 - (1.5 hours): Sense-Making and Understanding: understanding diverse societal evolution and social processes (e.g. history, economics, sociology, psychology, literature, arts) that enhance comprehension of the dimensions of global engineering; in a shrinking world with new communications technology, the study of other cultures (and foreign languages) is an item often ignored in the United States. Leveraging extra-engineering knowledge and resources to make sense of information from one’s environment.
Session 11 - (1.5 hours): Adaptation: learning to adapt to one’s surroundings; understanding others’ cultural norms and knowing when to modify one’s behavior to align with these differences; understanding and managing the challenges required to identify appropriate action while remaining true to one’s own identity and self.
Reflection (1 hour)
Session 12 - Case Study (1.5 hours)
Day Four – Developing Others
Session 13 - (1.5 hours) Building Capacity: empathizing with team members who have developed lowered expectations of their abilities, and accepting a personal involvement in heightening their levels of expectation and in meeting a higher level of their needs as described in Maslow’s hierarchy. The first steps towards building capacity within a community are to perform needs and strengths assessments of community assets, including people.
Session 14 - (1.5 hours) Structured Training: educating and training team members to bring their knowledge, skills, and attitudes up to the leadership levels required for optimum use of their capabilities. What are your objectives? What specific outcomes are desired?
Session 15 - (1.5 hours) Performance Review and Mentoring: more experienced professionals mentor less experienced ones, providing them with valuable knowledge, performance assessment, counsel, and support as they progress in their careers and professions. Although mentorship can involve teaching new engineers critical work processes, providing insights into their roles in the organization and the policies and rules that affect a position, mentorship is often situational, leveraging teachable moments rather than delivering regular lectures.
Reflection (1 hour)
Session 16 - Case Study (1.5 hours)
Day Five – Capstone Case Analysis
Session 17 - Case Study Presentations (3 hours)
Reflection (1 hour): Participants review and reflect on week’s activities.
Course schedule and registration times
Class runs 8:30 am - 5:00 pm each day except Friday when it ends at 1:00 pm.
There is a networking dinner on Tuesday from 6:00 - 8:00 pm.
Laptops are encouraged for this course.
About The Lecturers
Professor Joel Schindall
Co-Director, Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program
Professor Schindall re-joined the MIT faculty in June of 2002 after a 35-year career in the defense, aerospace, and telecommunications industries. His research includes the invention and development of a nanotube-enhanced ultracapacitor which holds the promise of being superior to electrochemical batteries as a means of efficient regenerative electrical energy storage, and he has also supervised research on dynamic simulation and reliability analysis of complex safety-critical systems.
Professor Schindall has co-developed and taught a required senior course in communication skills, including units on conceptual thinking, giving presentations, how to be effective in industry, cross-cultural skills, and engineering ethics, and he is developing a course on engineering design. As co-director of the Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program, Dr. Schindall is actively engaged in a program to enhance, expand, focus, and disseminate the teaching of engineering design and leadership within the MIT School of Engineering.
Prior to joining MIT, Dr. Schindall was vice president and chief technology officer of Loral Space and Communications (a manufacturer and operator of commercial satellites), senior vice president and chief engineer for Globalstar (a 48 satellite LEO mobile phone system), and president of Loral Conic (a manufacturer of telemetry systems for missiles and satellites). Dr. Schindall received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1963, 1964, and 1967. During his graduate years he was lecturer and wrote the text for a 140-student introductory electronics course, received an award for excellence in teaching, and was chief engineer for WBCN, a commercial FM radio station.
Dr. Richard Schuhmann
Senior Lecturer, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Program Manager, Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program
Rick Schuhmann joined the Gordon–MIT Engineering Leadership Program in September 2012 after 15 years at the Pennsylvannia State University, where he served as the Walter L. Robb Director of Engineering Leadership Development.
Dr. Schuhmann earned degrees spaced approximately ten years apart (B.S., Geology; M.S., Environmental Engineering; Ph.D., Environmental Engineering). This discontinuous approach afforded him the opportunity to spend a balanced life in academia and industry, his experiences in both venues providing him with a strong appreciation for the importance of leadership skills and character and the opportunity to practice them. Dr. Schuhmann’s industry experiences include offshore geophysical surveying, including the Gulf of Mexico, where he worked offshore on surveys for oil and gas exploration and construction activities. In addition, he has two decades of consulting experience on large environmental projects around the world.
Dr. Schuhmann’s 15-year teaching experience has spanned the civil engineering, entrepreneurship, and leadership curricula, with a focus on sustainability and global collaboration. He is active in both local and international water resource engineering projects and in supporting U.S. State Department efforts to promote innovative engineering enterprise development in North Africa.
This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please contact the Short Programs office for further details.
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