Program Elements

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The Engineering Leadership Program is comprised of a number of elements designed to give engineering students a well-rounded and robust leadership education that is complementary to their potential career paths. All ELP students will take 9 credit hours of leadership courses, work with a mentor, undertake a leadership experience, attend college seminars on leadership, and produce an Engineering Leadership Portfolio.

Select from the following topics to learn more:

ELP Coursework

Each ELP student is required to take a total of 9 credit hours (in most cases, three courses of 3 credit hours each) in leadership, project management, and/or global perspectives. The first course, Engineering Leadership Gateway, is required. Students may then select additional elective courses to complete their 9 credit hours.

The Engineering Leadership Gateway course (GEEN 2050) is designed to launch students’ journey through the Engineering Leadership Program.  As a cohort students explore fundamental concepts and questions that are especially meaningful for self-guided, life-long leadership development.  Rather than impart a particular philosophy and particular practical skillset, the course aims to cultivate students’ capacity to inductively develop their own leadership convictions, assess their own needs to develop particular leadership virtues and skills, and proactively seek experiences to learn and practice these abilities and traits.   The spirit of the course emphasizes integrity—both in the sense of commitment to authentic, gritty, courageous engagement in course work, and in the sense of cohesively integrating leadership development with all other aspects of personal, professional and civic life.

Elective Courses

ELP students are encouraged to plan their ELP electives around a purposeful learning plan in a discipline that is complementary to their leadership experience plan and/or their future career plan. Students have the freedom and responsibility to select any courses that are relevant to thier leadership interests. The course list below is only a sample of courses offered that have leadership content. Things to consider as you select your electives:

  • Will this course help me learn leadership theory or develop leadership skills? 
  • Am I interested in this topic and will it help develop skills in the areas aligned with my career interests?
  • Am I qualified to enroll in this course based on my class standing, prerequisite requirements, or program admission?

For example, if you are considering attending law school, you may want to select elective courses in political science, philosophy and economics. If you are interested in globalization, you should consider courses in geography, political science, economics and environmental studies. If your plan is to develop strong business skills, then you should investigate courses in the Engineering Management Program and Leeds School of Business.

PLC students can apply PRLC 2820 or PRLC 3810 as their other needed 3 credits. ROTC students can apply their ROTC courses as their ELP electives.

Students are responsible for taking any required prerequisites, or for obtaining a waiver from the department/program for any prerequisites. If the department/program has any questions about ELP, please feel free to ask them to contact JoAnn Zelasko. In most cases, introductory courses (1000 level) will not be accepted as ELP electives. An elective course plan must included in the student's ELP Portfolio.  If you have any questions about the elective plan. Email JoAnn Zelasko ; she will respond very quickly.

To view a sample list of potential ELP electives, click here.

Experiential Components

Interacting with a Mentor

Students will be matched with a mentor in their likely leadership experience and/or career path (e.g., industry, government, education, non-profit) in the semester in which they take the Engineering Leadership Gateway course. Students are required to interact with the mentor at least once per semester. The mentor will be a resource for the student to observe leadership and gain advice on forming a leadership experience. See the ELP Mentee Guide for more information about interacting with your mentor.

Leadership Experience

Students are expected, with guidance from their mentor and the ELP director, to structure and undertake a leadership experience in industry, government, or a non-profit organization.

Examples include:

  • Multi-year engagement in a group such as Engineers Without Borders, including fundraising and project development experiences.
  • Multi-year involvement in a student society or program, including holding at least one leadership position, with specific goals and results.
  • Strong involvement in a major fundraising or other volunteer project, such as the Journey of Hope cross-country bicycle ride to raise funds for programs to help people with disabilities.
  • Leadership position on a campus or college committee with specific goals and results.
  • A summer- or semester-long internship at a company where the student had a leadership role on a team-based project with specific goals and results, and/or undertook a leadership role within the company during the internship.

College Seminars on Leadership

To expand their leadership experience and knowledge, ELP students will be required to attend at least four college-sponsored seminars on leadership. Seminars will be held throughout the year. See the Leadership Events Calendar for offerings.

Past speakers have included former Secretary of Energy Federico Peña, national aerospace and business leader Norm Augustine, social entrepreneur and author Dr. Paul Polak, and Google Chrome Product Manager Travis McCoy. Learn more about past and future Leadership Speaker Series events.

Engineering Leadership Portfolio

ELP students will be required to develop a leadership portfolio to obtain the certificate. The portfolio should be developed throughout your academic program and must be reviewed each spring semester. All of the elements of the portfolio as described in the ELP Portfolio must be submitted no later than three months before graduation to both the ELP program director and the student’s mentor (ex: a May graduate must submit his/her portfolio by Feb. 1).

The ELP program director will provide feedback to the student on the final content of the portfolio, which may include required changes and/or needed improvements, two months before graduation. Any required changes must be provided and accepted by the ELP program director no later than one month before graduation in order for the student to receive the Engineering Leadership Certificate.

ELP Certificate Pathway

The Engineering Leadership Program is very individualized to meet the needs of our students and their individual leadership development plans.  Although this means the timing of the elements are flexible; we offer you this checklist to ensure success in ELP.

In the semester you take the Engineering Leadership Gateway Course OR, if you are a PLC student in ELP, the semester you take PLRC 1820:

  • Start your ELP Portfolio by copying your ELP application into your portfolio.
  • Write your electives plan (courses and planned year/semester).  (Note: you will update your elective plan in the future, if you decide to take different electives.)
  • Write how you will find and select your leadership experience.
  • Send your portfolio to the ELP Director by December 1 or May 1 of that semester.  You will receive feedback on your electives and leadership plan by the end of the semester.

Every semester after that (not including your last semester):

  • Update your portfolio to include the mentor interactions you had during the current semester.
  • If you attended any leadership seminars, update your portfolio to include reflections on these seminars.
  • If you took a leadership elective during the semester, update your portfolio to include your reflections on your leadership learning from the course.  
  • Update your leadership electives plan, if needed.
  • Update your leadership experience plan and execution.  Add details (what, when, where) as they develop. (Per the portfolio requirements, you should be journaling your leadership experience on at least a monthly basis.)
  • If you completed all of your electives, finish that section of your portfolio by adding the summary of the learning themes across the courses.

December 1 every year while you are in ELP (exception: if this is your last semester before completing your BS degree):

  • Send your portfolio to the ELP Director. You will receive feedback on your ELP progress by the start of the spring semester to ensure that you are successfully executing all the ELP components and to help you improve your portfolio. (NOTE: You should be updating your portfolio every semester, but it is reviewed only once each year.)

In your last semester (or the semester you are completing your BS requirements if you are pursuing a concurrent BS/MS degree):

By February 1 for May or August graduate (or October 1 for December graduate):

  • Complete the section on your mentor relationship and have your mentor add his/her feedback in the mentoring section of your portfolio.  (Recommend asking your mentor at least one month in advance for his/her input.)Complete the electives and seminar learning sections of your portfolio, if not yet completed.
  • Complete your leadership experience section and include your results, failures, leadership handoff, linkages to leadership course work, and any other significant learning.
  • Write the capstone synthesis section of your portfolio.
  • Review entire portfolio for grammar, punctuation, etc.
  • Send an electronic version in Word format to ELP Director. You will receive feedback on any required additions and improvements.

By April 15 (or November 15) :

  • Update your portfolio in response to the feedback received from ELP Director and ELP faculty.
  • Send the final electronic version in Word format to ELP Director.

Final decision on your ELP Certificate will be made by May 1 (or December 1).

Presidents Leadership Class Students

Presidents Leadership Class (PLC) students who are in the College of Engineering and Applied Science may also pursue an ELP certificate. PLC students must apply to ELP by their fourth semester at CU-Boulder. Please note the following details:

  • The Engineering Leadership Gateway course is waived for PLC students who have taken PRLC 1810 and 1820. There will be a few subjects covered in the ELP course that are not in the PLC courses. Students will be asked to add additional pieces to their leader­ship portfolio to demonstrate they have had training/learning in these areas. Additionally, PRLC 2820 or 3810 can count toward their other needed 3 credits.

  • With the prior review and approval of the ELP director, PLC students may structure one of their Walkabouts to be their ELP leadership experience. The Walkabout must have strong leadership components to qualify.

  • PLC students will need to participate in at least four engineering-sponsored seminars.

  • PLC students will participate in the ELP mentor component.

  • PLC students are required to produce an ELP portfolio in addition to their PLC portfolio.

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