Zachry Leadership Program offers profound insight beyond the books

“During my 87 years, I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think.”-- Bernard Mannes Baruch (1870-1965) Head of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission after World War II

Nl -feature -zachry -group 2[1]Texas A&M University's Dwight Look College of Engineering Zachry Leadership Program is a product of the past, the present and timeless principles. In the near term, it’s an enhanced response to the widely-discussed need in the United States for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates. Ultimately, it will serve an even higher purpose by helping students think more broadly about their potential to benefit themselves, their employer and society, understanding that their work can be a means to achieving goals that reach far beyond the scope of their daily work.

The program will augment the studies of a select group of engineering students, chosen via a comprehensive review process.  At peak, the program will have 96 participants, 32 each sophomores, juniors and seniors.  The program’s premise is that technical knowledge alone is insufficient to provide high impact contributions by graduate engineers first entering the workplace.  To maximize their potential to contribute requires a broader and more sophisticated level of personal awareness, enhanced leadership skills and a better understanding of how successful organizations operate.  The program focuses on helping students expand their perspectives and gain appreciation for the power of collaboration and diversity of thinking.  An additional, and critical, aspect of the program is designed to cultivate a degree of selflessness and a commitment to service.  The combination of coursework and exposure to recognized thought-leaders from a wide range of backgrounds will help students develop the capability and understanding necessary to build a strong foundation for successful and rewarding careers…and lives. 

Zachry Group established the Zachry Leadership Program through a $25 million gift to the Look College of Engineering. In addition to the Program, Zachry Group’s contribution will support construction of the Engineering Education Complex and endow a Professor of Practice within the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

A Comprehensive Approach

Students in the program will benefit from the depth of Zachry Group’s 90-year history, working on 5 continents with some of the largest and most sophisticated companies in the world, and its concept of the role that businesses can, and should, play in improving society. This concept encompasses the company’s conviction that, in addition to being a successful profit-making enterprise, it has an obligation to make a positive difference everywhere it works.  It strives to have an enduring impact on people and in the communities where it operates.  This is accomplished through a framework the company calls Corporate Citizenship.  Students will be introduced to Zachry’s unique view of its own purpose and how it measures the impact on employees, customers and communities.  In essence, it’s a propriety and expanded approach to focusing on the “Triple Bottom Line”.  The intent is to present multiple approaches, not emphasizing a single “best” business model.  Students will also learn about other approaches and hear from representatives of different organizations.  The Zachry Leadership Program seeks to stimulate students’ thinking about the possibilities and full potential for any organization.

The first two semesters of the five-semester program will help students learn more about themselves and the range of things that engineers can do, develop an understanding of business fundamentals and be exposed to various leadership concepts and models. Students will also have chances to support service projects and learn about non-profit leadership.

The middle two semesters will go into greater detail about leadership, business and organizational concepts, and the positive role that engineers and businesses can play in meeting society’s greatest needs.  Students will explore how the world is evolving and what the future will ask of them, as well as read and discuss business case studies and participate in a business simulation game. There will be various interdisciplinary learning experiences focused on improving their abilities to influence and work effectively in teams.

The final semester will allow students to apply what they have learned and begin thinking about how they will carry this knowledge forward into their careers and lives. This course will involve structured dialogue, journals, and a personal leadership project.

During their participation in the program, students will have opportunities to develop peer relationships, as well as interact with accomplished professionals and other individuals with remarkable backgrounds.   They will be exposed to the arts, as part of an approach to stimulate their creativity and open their minds.  They will emerge from the experience with a strong understanding of how businesses operate within a free enterprise system, strengthened leadership capabilities and a sense of self-confidence in their ability to influence people, and an appreciation for how individuals, and organizations, can make meaningful contributions to meeting society’s needs.

Starting Down the Path

The 32 program participants each year will enroll in one leadership course during each of the program’s five semesters beginning in the spring of their sophomore years. To be considered for the program, candidates must:

  • be enrolled in the Look College
  • be in good academic standing at the time of entry
  • go through an application process
  • and remain in good academic standing throughout the program. 

Students who will begin the spring semester of their second year in January 2016 are eligible to apply. Applications for the first class of 32 students are being accepted through August 20. Participants will be selected and notified by October 22.

All students who are accepted receive a $1,000 scholarship each semester while enrolled in the program. Upon completion, they earn a certificate in Engineering Leadership and 15 credit hours.