Rice among first to offer engineering leadership certificate

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Rice among first to offer engineering leadership certificate

Rice engineering program stresses leadership, communication, teamwork

HOUSTON — (Nov. 12, 2014) — Rice University is offering engineering students a unique opportunity to show potential employers that they’re graduating with the right stuff to lead.

In May, Rice will begin awarding a Certificate in Engineering Leadership to graduates who complete an internship, 10 credit hours of required courses and labs, and a portfolio and final presentation. The program — the first of its kind in Texas and one of just a handful in the United States — is offered through the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership.

Students at the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership take classes, complete internships and participate in hands-on activities such as this outdoor course, which challenges teams to work together to overcome physical obstacles. Credit: D. Soward/Rice University

“The days when an engineer could just get a solid academic background and expect to succeed in the world are over,” said Kaz Karwowski, executive director of the center. “We want to equip our Rice engineers with leadership skills, communication skills and all the know-how they need to thrive.”

Karwowski said the center began offering leadership courses when it was established in 2009, and more than 100 Rice engineering students are enrolled this semester. The certificate-granting program was formally adopted by Rice’s Faculty Senate this fall, which set the stage for the awarding of the first certificates in May.

Karwowski said the engineering schools at Rice, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and Cornell University are among those pioneering a new type of active, hands-on, engineering leadership education that is likely to become standard fare at engineering schools across the country.

He said the programs resulted from a 2004 National Academy of Engineering report titled “The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century.” The report included strategic recommendations for changing the way future engineers are educated.

“Three sets of skills — leadership, communication and teamwork — have become the core elements of Rice’s certificate program,” Karwowski said.

And there’s strong evidence that recent engineering graduates value those skills once they get into the workforce. A 2012 survey of 333 Rice engineering graduates by David Niño, professor in the practice of engineering leadership at the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, found that 75 percent rated leadership skills as “very important” or “crucial” to becoming successful engineers. Asked to similarly rate the importance of communication and teamwork skills, 89 percent and 95 percent, respectively, judged them “very important” or “crucial.”

For more information about the center and the certificate program, visit:
http://rcel.rice.edu
.

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High-resolution IMAGES are available for download at:

http://news.rice.edu/files/2014/11/RCEL-ropes1-lg.jpg
CAPTION: Students at the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership take classes, complete internships and participate in hands-on activities such as this outdoor course, which challenges teams to work together to overcome physical obstacles.
CREDIT: D. Soward/Rice University

http://news.rice.edu/files/2014/11/RCEL-ropes2-lg.jpg
CAPTION: Activities and courses at the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership are designed to teach and reinforce three key skills — leadership, communication and teamwork.
CREDIT: D. Soward/Rice University

http://news.rice.edu/files/2014/11/RCEL-kaz-lg.jpg
CAPTION: Kaz Karwowski
CREDIT: J. Fitlow/Rice University

This release can be found online at news-network.rice.edu/news.

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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,920 undergraduates and 2,567 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just over 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is highly ranked for best quality of life by the Princeton Review and for best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go here.


About Jade Boyd

Jade Boyd is science editor and associate director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.