Engineering Practice Requirement Essay (EPR 2)

The EPR 2 Interview assignment asks GEL2s to explore the reality of industry-scale engineering projects through the experiences of a seasoned engineering leader. To complete the assignment, GEL2s will:

  • Identify an experienced engineering leader whose career inspires them, whose experience includes extensive engineering project oversight, and who is willing to be interviewed. This person can either be their GEL2 mentor (if the GEL2 opts to be paired with a mentor), or anyone else who meets the criteria described below.
  • Conduct the interview – the focus should be on engineering project leadership – beyond that, other topics can be explored informally as the GEL2 and interviewee desire. Core topics for the GEL2 to pose to the interviewee are as follows:
    • Please describe some of the engineering projects that you have led, and why they were successful or not.
    • Describe what has made you effective as an engineering project leader.
    • What are your strengths and weaknesses as an engineering project leader? Do you have a formal or informal plan to strengthen your weaknesses?  How have you overcome past weaknesses?
    • Which capabilities are most important to you as an effective engineering project leader?
    • What are your recommendations/advice/guidelines to engineers who are leading, or about to lead, an engineering project?
  • Generate a summary report that includes the interviewee’s answers to the questions above, as well as thoughtful analysis of their answers and guidelines:

The selected interviewee should have substantial engineering project leadership experience – if needed, the GEL staff are able to assist GEL2s to identify possible interviewees. Great interviewee candidates have led teams of engineers on projects with specific, large-scale deliverables – such as: product development endeavors, major software releases, civil/infrastructural engineering projects, aerospace, electronics, biological, biomedical or pharmaceutical product development efforts, etc. There’s no restriction on the type of engineering discipline involved; we simply ask that GEL2s interview someone who has led teams involved in value creation, constrained by schedule, budget, and performance requirements, with a real deliverable. Managers or executives who have led engineering projects during their career are certainly viable interviewee candidates. Examples of candidates that do not fit the intent of the assignment are those who’ve spent their career entirely outside of the engineering projects realm, such as those with experience limited to non-engineering consulting services, policy, or marketing strategy, or those who have engineering degrees but have not practiced engineering – though, those may certainly be interesting people with great careers! 

EPR Interview Deliverables

[*NOTE: GEL2s in AY2015-16 opting to complete the Interview assignment as their EPR should submit these deliverables via email to jmfeiler@mit.edu rather than via the GEL Student Website]

 1. EPR Sign-Up

GEL2s will register their EPR Interview and choose the GEL Year 2 semester (Fall or Spring) in which they’ll deliver the report. The brief sign-up form (via the GEL Student Website) is due early in the Fall semester, and entails:

  • A one-paragraph description of whom they plan to interview, briefly summarizing the interviewee’s background and how it includes engineering project leadership. If the student has not yet identified a specific interviewee when the sign-up is due, they have the option of describing the type of person they seek to interview.
  • A choice of semester, Fall or Spring, in which they’ll commit to submitting their interview report.      

2. EPR Interview Report

  • This 5-10 page (1500-3000 words) report (to be submitted via the GEL Student Website) should include:
  • A description of the engineering project leader’s background (information provided in the sign-up can be re-used)
  • The interviewee’s answers to the questions above
  • Your thoughtful analysis and reflection on those answers – in other words, discuss implications for when and how to apply the interviewee’s advice, and a discussion of what the advice means to you
  • A discussion of how the GEL Capabilities of Effective Engineering Leaders and other aspects of the GEL Program connect to Engineering Project Leadership as it was described by the interviewee – discuss any themes from the interview that build on or refine your understanding of the GEL capabilities
  • A summary section that concisely lists what the interviewee feels are the key engineering project leadership guidelines
  • A “path forward” discussion of how you might implement those guidelines in your next experience as an engineering project leader

Your interview report will be graded based on the following considerations:

  1. Suitability of the interviewee (i.e., an engineering project leader)
  2. Quality and substance of the report (thoughtful, complete, 5-10 pages, more than merely a transcript of the interview – it must contain your own reflection, interpretation, and synthesis of concepts)
  3. Inclusion of a key engineering project leadership guidelines
  4. Inclusion of a discussion of how the Capabilities of Effective Engineering Leaders relate to the Leader and to the Guidelines presented
  5. Inclusion of a “path forward” discussion about your own future experiences