MSU News – MSU researchers win international award for paper about engineering leadership

October 10, 2017 — by Marshall Swearingen, MSU News Service

BOZEMAN – Two Montana State University researchers have received an international award recognizing their study about the leadership experiences of engineering students.

Bill Schell, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering in MSU’s College of Engineering, and Bryce Hughes, assistant professor in the Department of Education in MSU’s College of Education, Health and Human Development, won the American Society for Engineering Management’s Merritt Williamson Award, which recognizes the best paper presented at the organization’s annual international conference.

The conference papers were reviewed and the winners selected ahead of the Oct. 18-21 event in Huntsville, Alabama, where the MSU researchers will accept their award.

The paper – titled “Are Engineers’ Leadership Attitudes and Experiences Different Than Other Students?” – was the researchers’ first substantive publication under a $300,000 grant they won from the National Science Foundation in February.

“It’s a good feeling that the research is already having an impact, and we’re just getting started,” said Hughes, who is an affiliated faculty member of the Montana Engineering Education Research Center in MSU’s College of Engineering.

In the paper, the researchers present their analysis of a national dataset and findings about whether leadership experiences among engineering students differ from those of students in other fields. They identified significant differences, including that engineering students are less likely than their peers to see themselves as leaders, even though they are actually more likely to hold leadership positions in student organizations.

The early findings “are supporting the hypotheses that we had going into the project,” said Schell, who is one of Montana Engineering Education Research Center’s two associate directors.

“We’re starting to…

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