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ASEE- Capetown- Paper- SCHUHMANN-091108

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					Shaping the World: Teaching Global Leadership Skills to Engineers
Richard J. Schuhmann, Ph.D. Director, Engineering Leadership Development Program Penn State University 213-E Hammond Building University Park, PA, 16802, USA Sarah Zappe, Ph.D. Director of Assessment and Instructional Support Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education 201 Hammond Building University Park, PA, 16802, USA

Abstract Engineering graduates must be prepared to enter a dynamic rapidly globalizing world. To succeed, they will require a broad worldview as well as specific global skills. A 3-course sequence of three 1-credit courses has been developed in the Engineering Leadership Program at Penn State University. This sequence represents a vertical integration of global knowledge and skills. In preliminary surveys and reflections, students recognize the unique value of each component and report on the relative value. Although students are unanimous in their perceived value of international travel, they also report that non-travel courses in the sequence are important and provide significant enhancement to their global skill set. In an age of increasing travel costs, the ability for engineering programs to develop global skills in students may be realized through non-travel courses and collaborations such as we present here. Introduction As reported by the National intelligence Council, “the very magnitude and speed of change resulting from a globalizing world – apart from its precise character – will be a defining feature of the world out to 2020 [and] become an overarching mega-trend, a force so ubiquitous that it will substantially shape all other major trends in the world” 6. In 2001, engineering educators in the United States were formally challenged by ABET through Engineering Criteria 2000 to prepare students to function in multi-disciplinary teams, communicate effectively, and understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context. Programs changed in response, increasing the number of application exercises, case studies, open-ended problems, design projects, and in-class group projects 4. By 2004 Engineering graduates reported having more active engagement in their own learning, spending more time traveling and studying abroad, being more involved in engineering design competitions, and experiencing a greater curricular emphasis on diversity 4. These skills and classroom activities are increasingly relevant in 2008 as commercial engineering projects are regularly accomplished not only through collaboration across disciplines, but also across cultures and time zones. The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) further defined attributes and abilities engineering graduates will need to succeed in the new global economy, which include

an enhanced technical creativity, an understanding of the importance of sustainability in design, the ability and desire to assume influential leadership positions, and the ability to recognize and adapt to a rapidly changing world 6. During this same time period Penn State Engineering Alumni Survey (PSEAS) data indicated an increasing perception by alumni of the importance of study abroad to their career. At its nadir in the year 2000, alumni reported the importance of a study abroad experience to their job was ~2.4 (on a 5 point scale); by 2002 this figure had increased to its highest point in a decade, ~4.40. Within the same time period, the perceived importance of work or an internship abroad increased from ~2.3 to ~4.75 2. Although there is a long tradition of study abroad in universities in general, engineering curricula are perhaps still in the early stages of globalization 3. In this paper, we present experiences in preparing students to lead in the new global economy; leadership requiring a keen sense of global awareness, specific skills, and moral courage. Engineering leadership development The Engineering Leadership Development program at Penn State University takes global awareness as necessary but insufficient for graduating engineers. Some of the most desirable engineering career paths now have global trajectories, and global awareness alone will not provide students with the critical skills necessary to enter and succeed in the highly competitive global playing field. Although graduates from the best engineering schools in the United States (US) are still highly prized by international organizations in the private and public sectors, the relatively weak foreign language skills of US students places them at a disadvantage with respect to, say, graduates from top programs in the European Union (EU). In addition, EU graduates frequently leverage programs like Erasmus and joint international degree programs to gain significant cross-cultural experience prior to graduation. It is against this cross-cultural competition that Penn State's program focuses on providing students with the critical leadership skills to enhance their already strong technical skill sets and prepare them for global careers. Students in the program are trained not just in leadership theory and skills, but to be global leaders with knowledge of the world, skills in cross-cultural communication, and experience in participating in change processes in other countries. The program accomplishes this broadly through strategic assignments and a curricular emphasis on diversity and global awareness. In addition, immersive user-friendly international course sequences have become a significant component in the program. The program offers two paths through which students may elect to travel to either Morocco or Hungary as the final component of the sequence. Approximately 20 students travel each year with the program, representing a significant percentage of the 50 students who graduate each year with a formal Minor in Engineering Leadership Development. The course sequence leading to Hungary is the focus of this paper. Global course sequence The global course sequence begins with cognitive approaches to global knowledge, creating a strong foundation in the dimensions of culture and communication as well as introducing students to case studies of global leaders and organizations that have made a difference. Subsequently, the ability to engage in cross-cultural dialogues, project management, and

leadership skills are developed through virtual teaming with entrepreneurship students at Corvinus University in Budapest using videoconferencing technology. The virtual teams work on real-world projects with clients in third countries, usually in the developing world. Students work with these clients to build relationships, listen, and help define specific needs. The crosscultural multi-disciplinary student teams then work closely throughout the semester to create the defined deliverables. Finally, a short intensive trip to Budapest where the Hungarian-American student teams deliver their final presentations provides an experiential basis for generating change. This experiential international program is short term and in the early summer immediately following examinations to allow students to return for summer jobs and/or summer school. Moving through this sequence represents a progressively greater investment in time and money but also offers progressively greater impacts. A fourth level would be a global internship program. We seek a better understanding of the relationship between the academic and experiential facets of education, and the absorbed outcomes for the students in skill sets, worldviews, and motivation to continue realizing their careers and their lives through global engagement. The joint Penn State-Corvinus curriculum was developed over a period of 4 years. In its current state, the content of the three 1-credit modules is as follows: 1. Global Engineering Business Seminar This first course in the sequence provides students with a strong academic foundation for the subsequent development of enhanced intercultural collaboration skills. The course focuses on developing a keen understanding of the dimensions of culture and communication; students are trained to think like cultural anthropologists, becoming aware of cultural elements around them and observing communication styles. Although most students at the university are from the midAtlantic region of the United States, and demographically the University is located in what may at first appear to be a mono-culture (i.e. predominantly Caucasian, middle class, etc.), students become keenly aware of regional cultural differences even between the Pittsburgh region in the west and the Philadelphia region in the east through critical observation, discussion and analysis. Communication levels and styles are explored and the course ends with a module on negotiation. 2. International Entrepreneurship and Organizational Leadership The second course in the sequence begins with a 4-week academic foundation prior to the start of virtual teaming. The elements of engineering design are revisited and discussed in a global context; emphasis is placed on front end design and ensuring that solutions are appropriate. Drawing from international journals on project management, students discuss case studies from around the world and explore the anticipated challenges of project planning, intra-team conflict, and the realities of time constraints. Once the semester begins in Hungary (1 month after Penn State), the students form their virtual teams by selecting a semester project. The team members then make contact with each other both during formal scheduled in-class meetings using classroom videoconferencing, and outside of

class using personal Skype™ accounts. Once relationships are formed, the team formulates a project plan, contacts the client(s) and begins the collaboration. Projects in the 2007-2008 academic year included: (i) engineering design and return on investment analysis of a rainwater catchment system to serve a community of mentally and physically handicapped young adults in Jamaica, West Indies; (ii) engineering design and fabrication of finger protectors for a women's agricultural cooperative in Tioute, Morocco, as well as a supply chain analysis for exporting the product – Argan Oil – to buyers in the the EU and USA; (iii) engineering design, fabrication and testing of methods for Baobab pulp separation and seed decortication, and a market analysis for the sale of pulp in the EU and USA, for clients in Benin, West Africa. These projects result in physical objects and/or detailed engineering design, as well as emotive experiences; the teams hone their engineering and business skills, learn new cross-cultural methods, and experience the feeling that accompanies having made a difference. Placing engineering within this type of human context is especially significant if programs wish to promote racial and gender diversity in the class 5. 3. International Practicum Once the final reports have been submitted and final examinations are completed in spring semester, the class embarks on a 1-week international site visit to Budapest. The students are immersed in the Hungarian culture; they live in apartments near the River Duna, commute to Corvinus University each day, attend lectures on international law and business, take field trips to cultural landmarks and manufacturing facilities, and are tasked with “field challenges”. These field challenges are open-ended problems requiring the students to work together in blended teams, often requiring them to travel extensively throughout the city which allows them time to socialize with their Hungarian classmates while working towards a shared goal. Final presentations, which provide the culmination of the site visit, are open to students and faculty from Corvinus University and allow the teams to showcase their work. Students’ Perceptions of Course Sequence The growth of intercultural understanding and communication skills are at the heart of the course sequence and are developed throughout; an academic foundation is laid in the first course, subsequently reinforced through hands on virtual teaming in the second course, and capped by the onsite visit in the third. In order to understand the impact of the three course sequence, students were asked to complete several reflections and a survey. Following each course, students completed a reflection in which they were asked how their knowledge of cultures and current events and their ability to critically evaluate events has changed, how they have changed as a person, and how their interactions with others may have increased. The reflections show that students gain a visceral understanding through practice and learn through the invaluable experiences which arise during the semester, such as reconciling conflicts during virtual teaming. Students in the three course sequence reported enhanced cultural awareness and ability to communicate effectively across cultures. There was a shift from ethnocentric to global perspective and students reported being more keenly aware of global events. For example, one student said, “Previously, my view of the

world was very American based; I am now able to see how small a part of the world we truly are.” In addition to the course reflections, upon completion of the international practicum, the students were asked to complete a brief survey about each segment of the course sequence, including their perceptions of the impact on global skill set and the value of each segment. A total of 10 students participated in the 3-course sequence and 9 completed the survey. Of the 10 students, 7 were male and 3 female; one was an International student and the rest were from the United States. In the survey, students were asked how well each course improved their global skill set using a 5-point Likert-type scale. The response was quite positive as displayed in Table 1. Figure 1 displays the average ratings for this item (on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being “Greatly improved my global skill set”). The results of this question suggest that students find all three course segments to be beneficial to enhancing their global skill set. However, the incremental effect of the international practicum seemed to impact the students the most in terms of acquiring a global skill set.

Table 1: Student Perception of Course Impact on Global Skill Set Somewhat Did not improved my improve my global skill global skill set set (1) (2) (3) (4) Global Engineering 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 11.1% (1) 66.7% (6) Business Seminar International Entrepreneurship and Organizational Leadership International Practicum

Greatly improved my global skill set (5) 22.2% (2)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

11.1% (1)

33.3% (3)

55.6% (5)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

0.0% (0)

100% (9)

Figure 1: Average Rating for Course Impact on Global Skill Set
5 4 3 2 1 Global Engineering Seminar International Entrepreneurship Practicum

When asked which course most greatly impacted their global skill set, two students felt that traveling abroad was most beneficial. Most of the remaining students felt that the non-travel International Entrepreneurship course was most beneficial for a variety of reasons. One student felt that this course “was challenging because it required interacting with our international colleagues during video conference and via e-mails. Another student said the following: “It was a combination of the International Entrepreneurship and Organizational Leadership class and the practicum that made the most difference. It was really necessary to have both to get the maximum benefit of each. It was very difficult working with the Corvinus Students over the web, and then meeting them in person made all the difference. You can't get the full impact of that having the experience any other way.” Because of the logistics and expense of travel to an international location for a practicum, we were interested in gathering student perceptions of the necessity of each of the three courses in order to have a successful experience. Table 2 displays the frequency data for the Likert-type questions asked of the students regarding the courses.

Table 2: Student Perceptions on Course Sequence
Strongly Disagree A successful experience in the Practicum is dependent upon what I learned in the Global Engineering Basics Seminar. A successful experience in the Practicum is dependent upon what I learned in the class on International Entrepreneurship and Organizational Leadership. A successful experience Practicum is dependent upon what I learned in both previous courses. The skills I learned in Hungary were worth the financial cost of the trip. The skills I learned in Hungary were worth the time that I spent preparing for the trip. Students can learn equivalent skills from just taking parts of the three course series. All three courses are necessary in order for students to obtain a comprehensive global skill set. Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree 22.2% (2) Agree Strongly Agree

0.0%

0.0%

55.6% (5)

22.2% (2)

0.0%

11.1% (1)

11.1% (1)

55.6% (5)

22.2% (2)

0%

0%

0%

55.6% (5) 22.2% (2) 33.3% (3) 11.1% (1) 33.3% (3)

44.4% (4)

0%

0%

0%

77.8% (7)

0%

0%

0%

66.7% (6)

22.2% (2)

66.7% (6)

0%

0%

0%

11.1% (1)

33.3% (3)

22.2% (2)

The majority of the students felt that equivalent skills cannot be learned from taking the courses in a piecemeal fashion and that the courses build on each other in order to create a successful experience. Students were asked how the two prerequisite courses helped to prepare them for a successful international practicum. Students felt that these two courses provided a “stepping stone” preparation for the international experience, without which the international trip would be similar to a traditional study abroad experience. Students had very positive statements regarding the complete course sequence. For example, one student said the following: “The Global Engineering Seminar course acts as a stepping stone for the international project experience by preparing students for cultural difference. The International Entrepreneurship course then allows students to apply this knowledge and tests their ability to communicate and coordinate effectively with their international counterparts. The International Practicum course wraps up the experience through face-to-face interactions between the international project teams. To me, the entire process resembles the way business deals are structured…” Several of the nine students mentioned this idea of preparation, in terms of not only what to expect but also how to behave in a different culture. As another student noted, “You need to be

fully prepared for what you will experience, and these classes prepare you for that. They teach you what to expect, as well as how you should present yourself.” Given the expense of international travel and the difficulty with expanding the course sequence to a greater number of students, we were interested in the students’ perceptions regarding the benefits of the first two courses in the sequence. Students were specifically asked what the potential benefit would be if students only completed the first two courses in the series, and did not travel to Hungary. All students felt that the practicum was very beneficial and important. One student made the following point: “Without taking the international practicum the students would not be able to come full circle and gain that last bit of real world experience. The first two courses provide a very unique, awesome learning experience, but it really is necessary to have all three. For one thing, it was a lot of fun, but more seriously, you can't fully experience another culture by reading a book or working with students from there on a project. It's really necessary to go there to complete the experience.” However, several students mentioned that the first two courses are beneficial and can be taught on a larger scale. For example, one student stated, “The knowledge gained in the first two classes is still very important, and should be taught to as many students as possible.” Another student stated that, “Students that completed the first two courses would still have global understanding…However, by not going to Hungary, they miss the first hand experience of being placed into a different culture.” In this sample, all students agreed or strongly agreed that the skills gained in the International Practicum were worth the time for preparation and cost of the trip. Conclusions and wider significance Technical and social challenges are becoming increasingly linked, as are nations and cultures, and to effect constructive change in the 21st century these challenges cannot be treated as separate and distinct 8. Because of this, engineering programs must continue to refocus the engineering curricula from content to skills, broaden students' worldviews, and hone their judgment 1. Collaborative global programs with a focus on socially relevant projects represent a viable pathway by which to respond to a rapidly changing world and realize these goals. In an age of increasing fuel costs and security challenges, it becomes less practical to physically transport students across the globe to provide them with the intercultural experiences necessary to succeed in the global economy. We believe that through cultural preparation and virtual teaming such as presented here, engineering programs can add significant value when preparing students for global careers without the necessity of travel; however, in the end, “making universities and engineering schools exciting, creative, adventurous, rigorous, demanding, and empowering milieus is more important than specifying curricular details” 10. Key Words: Global, cross-cultural, leadership, management, engineering

References
[1] Adams, Robin S., R.M. Felder, Reframing Professional Development: A Systems Approach to Preparing Engineering Educators to Educate Tomorrow's Engineers, Journal of Engineering Education, p. 239-240, July 2008 [2] Devon, Richard F., E. Kisenwether, and R.J. Schuhmann. “Engineering Education and the Global Economy: The Search for Policy.” 2006 ASEE Annual Conference, Chicago, 2006 [3] Duderstadt, James J., The Navigation of Universities through a Flat World, European University association, Barcelona Spain, March 25, 2008 [4] Lattuca, Lisa R., Patrick T. Terenzini, and J. Fredericks Volkwein, Engineering Change, A Study of the Impact of EC2000, ABET, 2006 [5] Malcom, Shirley M., The Human Face of Engineering, Journal of Engineering Education, p. 237-238, July 2008 [6] National Academy of Engineering, The Engineer of 2020, Washington, DC, 2004 [7] National Intelligence Council, Mapping the Global Future, Project 2020, Washington, Government Printing Office, 2004 [8] Sheppard, Sheri D. J.W. Pellegrino, B.M. Olds, On Becoming 21 st Century Engineer, Journal of Engineering Education, p. 231-232, July 2008 [9] The Engineer of 2020, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, DC, 2004 [10] Vest, Chuck M., Context and Challenge for Twenty-First century Engineering Education, Journal of Engineering education, p. 235-236, July 2008


				
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