National Academy of Engineering Announces Winners of the 2015 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education


Thu, January 08, 2015

Washington, DC, January 08, 2015 —

The National Academy of Engineering announced today that Simon Pitts and Michael B. Silevitch will receive the 2015 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education “for developing an innovative method to provide graduate engineers with the necessary personal skills to become effective engineering leaders.” The $500,000 annual award honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society.

The Gordon Prize will be presented at Northeastern University this spring.

“I am pleased to recognize the 2015 Gordon Prize recipients and Northeastern University for their program dedicated to educating and inspiring the next generation of engineering leaders who will shape our world,” said NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr.

The Northeastern University Gordon Engineering Leadership Program (GEL) is a graduate degree and certificate program focused solely on developing leadership skills for the practicing engineer. The GEL curriculum focuses on five core pillars: leadership capabilities, leadership labs, product development, scientific foundations, and a challenge project. Typically, GEL students have three to five years of work experience in the field prior to entering the program. This model brings together teams of students who gain a common understanding of how to tackle challenges through rich discussion and mutual learning.

The current director of the GEL program, Simon Pitts, has been instrumental in building a community of practitioners among universities to share best practices in engineering leadership development. Prior to joining the Northeastern University GEL team, Pitts served as a senior executive at Ford Motor Co., where he learned the value of hiring engineering leaders with diversified backgrounds and who have mastered the leadership capabilities required for them to deliver successful products to market. His professional background and dedication to cultivating meaningful relationships between students and industry has had a tremendous impact on the growth and success of the GEL program.

Michael B. Silevitch, Robert D. Black Professor of Engineering, created the GEL program and served as its initial director. He is now a lead mentor for the students in the program. A critical element of the GEL curriculum is “three-way mentoring” where each student is assigned one mentor from the program, one industry partner mentor, and another mentor who has expertise in the student’s technical area. Silevitch has been critical to advancing this part of the program, which is designed to help students improve their leadership skills through evaluations from mentors.

The Gordon Prize was established in 2001 as a biennial prize recognizing new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders. Recognizing the potential to spur a revolution in engineering education, NAE announced in 2003 that the prize would be awarded annually.

Founded in 1964, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. Its mission is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.

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