Writer: Linda Fresques
Engineering today is a team-based, multidisciplinary endeavor that requires skills beyond technical abilities, but also the ability to work with diverse groups of people, communicate effectively and develop entrepreneurial skills. New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering will help students develop those essential “soft skills” with the launch of the Ron Seidel Engineering Leadership Institute.
A donation from engineering alum Ron Seidel and his wife Janice, will make the institute a reality this coming spring, providing students with the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that they will need to become successful leaders in engineering careers.
“Engineering isn’t just about numbers, designs, and materials—it’s about leadership. One of the key attributes to becoming a leader in engineering practice, is to bring together teams from various disciplines, communicate, make decisions, be self-directed, and ethical,” said College of Engineering Dean Lakshmi N. Reddi. “We are grateful that Ron and Janice Seidel know the importance of leadership in engineering and are generously supporting this critical focus for our students.”
Janice and Ron are graduates of NMSU in speech pathology and mechanical engineering, respectively. They have lived in the Dallas area since graduation but have maintained their ties to the university over the years. In addition to this donation, they have funded an endowed scholarship memorializing J. Gordon Watts, Janice’s father, who was a professor of botany and entomology at NMSU for over 30 years. Ron is a long time member of the Mechanical Engineering Academy and currently serves as its treasurer.
“Our family owes a great deal to NMSU and this donation is a way we can support this new and exciting program that will help create a new generation of engineering leaders,” said Ron.
A group of 20 students will be selected to be the first cohort in the two-year, self-paced program that includes professional training in leadership, communication, wellbeing and time management, and community engagement. They will work with mentors and attend professional development, leadership and communication seminars and workshops. They will apply their skills through community service and recruiting projects. Seidel’s gift will provide participating students with stipends, funding for books and supplies and travel to conferences. It will also support distinguished lectures from well-known leaders in engineering fields.
Reddi is currently developing an advisory board of accomplished NMSU engineering alums, including Seidel, to develop the program.