Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering
Civil Engineering (Construction Engineering & Management)
Charles T. Jahren
The purpose of this study was to investigate leadership requirements from the standpoint of prospective employers for full-time, entry-level engineering positions and create a survey instrument to evaluate them. Using the sequential exploratory mixed methods approach, the researchers used emerging qualitative data to inform the development of the quantitative survey instrument.
The qualitative phase of this study sought to understand if industry needs for leadership for two engineering undergraduate populations are the same or different. An analysis was first performed on job postings in the engineering career services database of job postings at a large Midwestern university. The two engineering majors chosen were construction engineering and electrical engineering; one which has leadership explicitly stated in the ABET Program Level Criteria and one which does not. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with recruiters with job postings specifically targeted for only construction engineering or electrical engineering undergraduates. Five leadership themes emerged from the interviews: initiative/confidence, communication, interpersonal interactions, teamwork, and engagement.
Using the transcripts and findings from the interviews, a quantitative survey instrument was developed to further explore the relative importance of the five themes. Cognitive interviews were conducted to refine and improve the instrument before release. The survey response rate was 25% (193 of 840). A confirmatory factor analysis determined validity and reliability of the instrument. The survey instrument was used to determine that the relative importance of the five themes is generally the same regardless of major being hired or job title category of the recruiter; the most important theme was initiative/confidence, followed by communication, interpersonal interactions, teamwork, and engagement.
This study should be refined and repeated at other universities to investigate a larger sample size. In addition, this study serves as the starting point to determine which curricular and non-curricular activities should be included in engineering undergraduate programs to best prepare students for careers in the twenty-first century.
Beth Lin Hartmann
Hartmann, Beth Lin, "Engineering leadership: important themes identified by recruiters of entry-level engineers" (2016). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 14987.