This NSF sponsored research initiation project explores the leadership beliefs of undergraduate engineering students on leaders in technology, society or personal role models of leadership. This study was conducted at a Research I university that is also a minority serving institution for Asian Americans as well as an Hispanic Serving Institution. A diverse representation of undergraduate engineering students within the college of engineering across the majors of bioengineering, civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, and mechanical engineering were interviewed one-on-one by the principal investigator using a semi-structured interview guide. The students were probed on their beliefs of leader attributes, their personal leader role models, experiences in leadership roles, and how they viewed themselves as leaders. The research was approved by the institutional review board and all students signed a written consent prior to participation. The interviews took 60-90 minutes and included 32 questions. In total, 32 students were interviewed for this project with a mean age of 22.1 years (range: 18-34 years). There were 4 Bioengineering, 3 Civil Engineering, 6 Chemical Engineering, 5 Computer Science, 3 Electrical Engineering, 4 Industrial Engineering, and 7 Mechanical Engineering students. There were 15 men, 15 women and 2 transgender individuals. The study included 9 Asian, 7 White , 11 under-represented minorities, and 3 multiracial students.
Using the constant comparative method, a codebook is being developed from the interviews by the PI to identify the constructs, or factors, in the professional development of engineering student as leaders, that includes the intersection of race and gender. Two social scientists helped review and develop the interview guide and coding of the interviews by the principal investigator. The first transcript was coded by the principal investigator and the social scientists were in consensus with the initial codes. The factors that influence the beliefs of leader attributes in role models, self-identified leader attributes and experiences will be discussed at the poster presentation. An emerging prototypical model of a leader included both masculine and feminine attributes by both female and male students. In addition, it was found that the role models for these students were varied, but most students had a role model when they were young and included role models from middle school through high school and college. In addition, the lessons learned from leadership roles have had positive effects on their professional development as engineers. In the long term, the analysis of the interviews using grounded constructive theory will result in an emerging model on the intersection of race and gender on the leadership professional development for a diverse population of undergraduate engineering students.
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