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Gordon Engineering Leadership directors honored by NAE
Michael B. Silevitch and Simon Pitts, respectively the founding and current directors of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program at Northeastern University, have been recognized by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for their contributions toward developing effective engineering leaders with one of the top NAE annual prizes. This is the most recent in a year of exciting news for the program; in 2014, a sustaining gift from Dr. Gordon launched the Gordon Institute of Engineering Leadership, which will continue to act as one of the critical elements of the College’s academic experience.
The full text from the NAE announcement is below (available at http://www.nae.edu/Projects/MediaRoom/20095/107830/129231.aspx)
Washington, DC, January 8, 2015 – The National Academy of Engineering announced today that Simon Pitts and Michael B. Silevitch will receive the 2015 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Engineering Education “for developing an innovative method to provide graduate engineers with the necessary personal skills to become effective engineering leaders.” The $500,000 annual award honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society.
The Gordon Prize will be presented at Northeastern University this spring.
“I am pleased to recognize the 2015 Gordon Prize recipients and Northeastern University for their program dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation of engineering leaders who will shape our world,” said NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr.
The Northeastern University Gordon Engineering Leadership Program (GEL) is a graduate degree and certificate program focused solely on developing leadership skills for the practicing engineer. The GEL curriculum focuses on five core pillars: leadership capabilities, leadership labs, product development, scientific foundations, and a challenge project. Typically, GEL students have three to five years of work experience in the field prior to entering the program. This model brings together teams of students who gain a common understanding of how to tackle challenges through rich discussion and mutual learning.
The current director of the GEL program, Simon Pitts, has been instrumental in building a community of practitioners among universities to share best practices in engineering leadership development. Prior to joining the Northeastern University GEL team, Pitts served as a senior executive at Ford Motor Co., where he learned the value of hiring engineering leaders with diversified backgrounds and who have mastered the leadership capabilities required for them to deliver successful products to market. His professional background and dedication to cultivating meaningful relationships between students and industry has had a tremendous impact on the growth and success of the GEL program.
Michael B. Silevitch, Robert D. Black Professor of Engineering, created the GEL program and served as its initial director. He is now a lead mentor for the students in the program. A critical element of the GEL curriculum is “three-way mentoring” where each student is assigned one mentor from the program, one industry partner mentor, and another mentor who has expertise in the student’s technical area. Silevitch has been critical to advancing this part of the program, which is designed to help students improve their leadership skills through evaluations from mentors.
The Gordon Prize was established in 2001 as a biennial prize recognizing new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders. Recognizing the potential to spur a revolution in engineering education, NAE announced in 2003 that the prize would be awarded annually.
Founded in 1964, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. Its mission is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.
Source: News @ Northeastern
The National Academy of Engineering is honoring Northeastern’s Simon Pitts and professor Michael B. Silevitch for their leadership and impact on the university’s Gordon Engineering Leadership Program. The academy’s annual award, named Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Engineering Education, recognizes innovation in education that develops strong engineering leaders.
The Gordon Engineering Leadership Program—established in 2007 with a $20 million investment by Bernard M. Gordon who made an additional $10 million investment in 2014—creates an elite cadre of engineering leaders defined by their ability to invent, innovate, and implement in the field.
“We are greatly honored with this NAE recognition, which affirms the college’s commitment to an outstanding—yet multidimensional—engineering education, including skills needed for the workplace beyond strong technical competency,” said Nadine Aubry, dean of the College of Engineering. “Michael and Simon have done a fantastic job demonstrating how engineering leadership can be taught to engineering students in a focused and effective manner around a real-world challenge project posed by industry. The Gordon prize could not have come at a better time, just weeks after we announced the founding of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Institute at Northeastern—made possible by an additional generous investment by Bernard Gordon. I look forward for the college to further lead in this area.”
One of the academy’s honorees, Pitts has played an integral role in growing the program to more than 30 students and in developing the curriculum since taking over as the program’s director in 2010. He has also been building a community of practice among the field, with institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, and others. This community has turned into a consortium that holds conferences, shares best practices and pedagogical approaches, and collaborates to enhance student experiences in similar programs nationwide.
“Winning the prize is both a tribute to the team and a validation of our innovative approach. We’ve created a systematic way of developing both character and the technical skills needed to lead engineering teams to successfully deliver in a challenging real-world environment,” Pitts said.
Through the graduate program, students pursue a master of science in engineering in a range of disciplines such as mechanical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and engineering management, or a certificate in engineering leadership. Students, known as Gordon Fellows, simultaneously build leadership skills and grow their technical product development skills while earning their degree. This program’s emphasis on the delivery of a market worthy challenge project provides experiential learning, which is a cornerstone of Northeastern’s educational model, provides students with an invaluable competitive edge over their peers.
For his part, Silevitch, the program’s founding director, is now a lead program mentor. Through a unique “three-way mentoring” approach, students are paired with mentors from the program, with industry partners, and others with expertise in the student’s technical area. These mentoring relationships have had a critical impact on students’ success, he said.
“There were two key elements that needed to be incorporated into the program in order to accelerate the development of an effective leader,” Silevitch, Robert D. Black Professor in the College of Engineering and co-director of Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence said. “An engineering leader must be an engineer who is capable of understanding not only a specific field but is also able to grasp the multi-disciplinary aspects and trade-offs required for the design of modern products and systems. An engineering leader must also have a demonstrated record of accomplishing major challenges that required both technical depth and an intense team-based effort to succeed.”
The academy’s Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Engineering Education is presented annually and includes a $500,000 award. It was established in 2001 to honor those leading the field in developing and cultivating strong engineering leaders. Past recipients have included individuals at Dartmouth, Tufts, and Stanford, among other institutions. Northeastern will receive its award at a campus event on April 10, 2015.
Pitts and Silevitch plan to use a portion of the funds to generate leadership case studies and supporting materials to be disseminated in easily adapted forms to the engineering leadership education community nationwide.
“It is critical that we provide tomorrow’s engineering leaders with context—actual examples of success and failure of complex engineering projects in the real world,” Pitts added. “These case studies will address areas where industry feedback has indicated a considerable need and they will maximize the impact and diffusion across engineering education and engineering practice.”