Welcome to the Annual Design News Engineering Awards Issue. Here, you'll read about the breakthrough engineering work of 12 individuals, including the person voted by readers as Engineer of the Year, and three engineering teams.
What traits make them winners? They all have in-depth technical knowledge, and they're all tenacious, willing to walk through any obstacle, technical or managerial, to achieve their objectives. But what else?
Penn State Engineering Professor John Brighton, one of the early mentors of our Engineer of the Year, Gerson Rosenberg, says engineering leaders have to be able to step up, not hang back, when it comes to addressing technical issues. "They have to be in the forefront and in the middle of the discussion," he says. That's one of the traits he noticed in Rosenburg when the latter was just a student.
Dennis Boyle, a top team manager at engineering consulting firm IDEO, says leaders are good communicators with a fire to create and an ability to find several solutions to a problem. "They can think about details as well as strategy," he says, "and they're comfortable in the shop, in vendors' offices, and in front of groups."
Based on these comments and our own observations, we developed a checklist of leadership traits in engineering. Check off those traits that apply to you or those who work for you:
Seeks constantly to increase knowledge in his/her own area and other technical areas
Enthusiastically works outside his/her specialty when necessary
Communicates with and motivates other team members
Offers suggestions on designs—and seeks suggestions too
Sticks with a problem, whether technical, administrative, or financial, until a solution is found, then moves on
Disagrees with management when necessary, yet remains a team player
Add your own criteria to this list. Anyone who can check off all boxes is an engineering leader-in-waiting, and a potential winner of a Design News Excellence in Design Award.