Engineering Leadership for Early Career Professionals

Lead Instructor(s): 

David Niño
Joel Schindall


TBD Summer 2017

Course Length: 

5 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Closed

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

This course has limited enrollment. Apply early to guarantee your spot.


Our program for early career professionals focuses on the needs of engineers and other technical professionals who are leading others for the first time or aspiring to do so. We know from research that transitioning from individual contributor to first-time manager is one of the most promising but challenging promotions in a leader's career. The promise of this promotion comes from assuming greater responsibility and potential for impact. The challenge comes from learning to work in an entirely new way; from relying solely on oneself to deliver individual results to leading others to deliver collective results. This program is designed to prepare individuals to succeed in this transition.

The course begins with an overview of what differentiates leadership from management and then progresses through a series of practical skills that are crucial for leading in today's engineering and high technology environments. In addition to short modules on specific skills, the course includes two hands-on learning projects: one individual project on "communicating a team vision" and one group project focusing on a topic of special interest (topics of interest to participants that are not covered in the program). Throughout the course, emphasis is placed on experiential learning and self-reflection. Mirroring the practice of leadership itself, this course is high-contact and high-energy.

Takeaways from this course include:

  • Developing a foundation of skills for leading teams in engineering and technology environments
  • The ability to create and manage positive interpersonal and group relationships
  • Articulating a personal point of view about what it means to lead others

Who should attend:

This course is targeted to engineering, science, and technology professionals with less than 10 years of experience who are supervising others for the first time, or aspiring to do so. Those who should attend include: design engineers, research engineers, project engineers or managers, product engineers, members of technical staffs, applied scientists, and research scientists.

Computer Requirements:

Laptops/devices with word processing capability are recommended. Advance materials may be sent by email or posted to the MIT Stellar system; please expect an email from the course directors with information about how to access these materials.

Program Outline: 

Day One — Fundamentals of Engineering Leadership for Early Career Professionals

8:30 AM – 9:45 AM: Introduction to program instructors, participants, and learning goals. (Niño and Schindall)

9:45 AM – 10:00 AM: Break

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM: Fundamentals of engineering leadership: Overview of perspectives on management and leadership and implications for early career professionals. (Niño)

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM: Lunch

12:30 PM – 2:30 PM: Creating a team vision: Review and practice methods for creating a shared team vision. Review "Communicating a Vision" assignment. (Niño)

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM: Tour of MIT

3:30 PM – 3:45 PM: Break

3:45 PM – 4:15 PM: Introduce group project: Discuss how program participants will form groups to address topics of special interest.

4:15 PM – 5:15 PM: Learning from reflection: Participants review, assess, and document day's key learnings. (Niño)

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Special networking event (light buffet will be provided)

Day Two — Leading Engineering Project Teams

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM: Project leadership: Identifying and addressing challenges of leading complex engineering project teams. (Magarian)

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM: Break

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM: Project leadership – continued (Magarian)

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Lunch

1:00 PM – 3:15 PM: Communicating an inspiring vision: Discuss strategies and tactics for communicating an inspiring team vision. (Eng)

3:15 PM – 3:30 PM: Break

3:30 PM – 4:00 PM: Reflection: Participants review, assess, and document day's key learnings.

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM: Form special interest groups and begin working on group projects.

Day Three — Motivation and Negotiations

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM: Creating a motivating environment: Building team drive to act in support of group mission and goals. (Niño)

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM: Break

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM: Building positive relationships: Discuss strategies for building strong relationships within teams. (Feiler)

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Lunch

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Managing conflict and negotiations: Assessing your personal conflict management styles and practicing negotiation skills. (Niño)

3:00 PM – 3:15 PM: BREAK

3:15 PM – 3:45 PM: Reflection: Participants review, assess, and document day's key learnings.

3:45 PM – 5:15 PM: Group work on projects and final presentations.

Day Four — Managing Oneself and Decision Making

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM: Managing oneself: Building a foundation for continuing to develop one's leadership capabilities. (McGonagle)

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM: Break

10:15 AM – Noon: Engineering reasoning: Applying qualitative models of decision making; using elements, standards, traits, and processes of critical thinking in engineering to assess decision-making. (Schindall)

Noon – 1:15 PM: Special guest lecture: Ray Stata

1:15 PM – 3:00 PM: Vision presentations and feedback: Individuals will deliver their vision presentations and receive feedback from others.

3:00 PM – 3:15 PM: Break

3:15 PM – 4:30 PM: Vision presentations and feedback (cont.)

4:30 PM – 5:30 PM: Group work on projects and final presentations.

Day Five — Final Presentations

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM: Special topics presentations: Groups will deliver their final presentations on engineering leadership topics of special interest.

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM: Break

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM: Special topics presentations (cont.)

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Course reflection: Participants reflect on week's activities and assess program. Awarding of Certificates of Completion.


Course Schedule: 

View 2016 Course Schedule (pdf)    

Class runs 8:30 am - 5:00 pm each day except Friday when course ends at 1:00 pm.    

There is a networking dinner on Monday from 6:00 - 8:00 pm.    

Participants’ Comments: 


"The class was very nicely structured, with more practical advice than theory. I came out of it with concepts that I could apply immediately in my workplace. I also liked the format - the lecturing was kept to a minimum, and concepts were reinforced using hands-on exercises. This was a focused course that outlined practical concepts. The course itself taught useful methods, and it also provided a basis for future learning. As such, I would recommend this class for any young engineer."


"The course content was formalized in a way that was very clear, made a lot of sense, and had examples as to how to put these theories into practice. I learned highly valuable tools to make me a more effective leader at my job."


"The course was very well designed and executed. It gave me both practical skills and insightful perspectives. The course was very engaging beginning to end. I have already started recommending this class to my colleagues."


"It provides real-life experiences such as how to manage and act as a manager. In addition, exercises given through the course provide an understanding of how the course tools are being used and at the same time, reflect on some of the different methods that the different teams employed. Lastly, the sharing of different organizational ways of leadership was also very interesting and enlightening."



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.


Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (40%) 40
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (20%) 20
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (40%) 40

Delivery Methods: 


Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (20%) 20
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (40%) 40
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (40%) 40


Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (50%) 50
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (40%) 40
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (10%) 10