Prof. Brent Jesiek Receives NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award

Brent Jesiek
His research project, "Becoming Boundary Spanners: Investigating, Enhancing, and Assessing the Experiences of Early Career Engineers," provides an integrative vision for engineering education and practice based on boundary spanning as a core meta-attribute for 21st-century engineers.

Globalization trends, cross-functional teams, new information technologies, and flatter organizational structures are reshaping the workplace. As a result, engineers are increasingly expected to act as boundary spanners who can communicate, collaborate, and coordinate across organizational, disciplinary, geographic, demographic, stakeholder, and other boundaries. These kinds of capabilities are reflected in many current studies, reports, and accreditation guidelines, and a growing body of evidence suggests that those who can work effectively across boundaries are well positioned for career success. Yet most engineering graduates are poorly prepared for current professional realities, and this gap is made worse by crowded and segmented engineering curricula that often emphasize theoretical over experiential learning. Dr. Jesiek's project will systematically investigate what counts as boundary spanning competence in engineering.

More specific objectives of the project include: 1) generating a typology of boundary spanning roles and competencies for multiple engineering fields, 2) creating and piloting a situational judgment test (SJT) to assess key dimensions of boundary spanning competence in engineering practice, and 3) designing and evaluating an instructional framework to instill a boundary spanning mindset among engineering students and early career professionals.

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