ENGR 502: Engineering Leadership

ENGR 50200 Engineering Leadership equips emerging leaders to inspire and guide engineering and technology-focused teams and organizations to greater levels of innovation, collaboration, and discovery. Successful leaders in these fields create value where engineering and technology intersect with human and organizational behavior. They do this by learning and mastering evidence-based, practice-proven frameworks and tools to signal executive presence, lead high-performing teams, and design and transform organizations and ecosystems.

This course is approved for several graduate plans of study in the Purdue College of Engineering including the Masters of Engineering Management, and the Professional Masters Programs in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electronic and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering.

Purdue is known as the Cradle of Astronauts, with more of its graduates going to space than any other university. These alums include Neal Armstrong and Gene Cernan, the first and last humans to walk on the moon. Purdue’s contributions to supporting space exploration continue today with much of the content from this course piloted at NASA. Some of these experiences are detailed in the best-selling book, Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership (Wiley) which will be used as one of the texts for this course. Here’s more information on the three components of the ENGR 59600 Engineering Leadership.

Developing Executive Presence: “Executive Presence” is a term that can easily misunderstood. As used here the term “executive” has little to do with a title or a having an office in the “c-suite.” Instead, it describes patterns of behavior collectively known as “executive functions” that enable individuals to lead with vision, adaptability, and strategic thinking. In the context of leadership, “executive” refers to the capacity to effectively utilize these high-level mental processes to guide decision-making, plan strategically, regulate impulses, and adapt to changing circumstances to achieve leadership objectives. These functions are essential to navigate complexity, lead with influence, and foster organizational success. The Executive Presence portion of the ILA program enables participants to discover and develop their own authentic executive presence.

Leading High-Performing Teams. Science, engineering, and technology development are team sports. The process of innovation and discovery is too complex an undertaking for any one individual, regardless of how smart or well-resourced they may be. The basic unit of innovation and discovery is the team. Having smart, dedicated people in place is one thing, but the interaction between and among team members is another. This course helps learners leverage the power of cognitive diversity & psychological safety to help lead teams toward high performance. Cognitive diversity refers to the different ways individuals process information, solve complex problems, and optimally contribute to growth, innovation, and change. Psychological safety is the shared belief, among team members, that it is okay to take interpersonal risks, to express their ideas and concerns, and to admit mistakes – all without fear of negative consequences. Research indicates that these two factors greatly influence the ways in which team members interact with one another. Learners discover how to build and lead teams that have high degrees of both cognitive diversity and psychological safety.

Designing and Transforming Organizations and Ecosystems. Great science, engineering, and technology-focused teams and organizations must span boundaries. A culture of innovation and discovery requires leaders to learn and follow a set of simple (but not easy) rules to design, guide, and transform organizations and ecosystems by forming complex intra- and inter-organizational collaborations quickly, moving those collaborations toward measurable strategic outcomes, and making adjustments along the way. The ILA allows participants to learn, practice, and begin mastering the simple rules that govern complex collaboration. Embedded into the ILA is the opportunity for participants to become certified Strategic Doing Practitioners, a strategy discipline incubated at Purdue University, taught to over 4,000 leaders from 147 countries. 

Course Designer and Instructor. This course was designed and is taught by Scott Hutcheson, PhD, faculty member in the Purdue Polytechnic’s Department of Technology, Leadership and Innovation. For over 30 years, Dr. Hutcheson has had one foot inside the university and the other outside of it. His Purdue graduate courses are on the programs of study in four different colleges: College of Engineering, Purdue Polytechnic Institute, the Daniels School of Business, and the College of Liberal Arts. Additionally, Dr. Hutcheson directs Purdue’s undergraduate program in organizational leadership. Dr. Hutcheson also works with corporate leaders and has advised three U.S. President’s administration in policy issues related to technology and competitiveness. Hutcheson is co-author of Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership.

The content of this course is also taught in professional development training for industry. The following are some of the organizations that have offered these trainings.

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