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Rice Center for Engineering Leadership • George R. Brown School of Engineering • Rice University

Table of Contents 1 5 7 11 13 17 21 27

From the Faculty Director Rice Center for Engineering Leadership Overview RCEL 2.0: The RCEL Reinvention Journey Is RCEL Making a Difference? 2017 - 2018 Timeline Learning through Leading: Student Clubs and Organizations Leading by Example: Student Spotlights Thank you!

RCEL Mission: To educate, develop, and inspire ethical leaders in technology who will excel in research, industry, non-engineering career paths, or bold entrepreneurship.


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

From the Faculty Director

C. Fred Higgs III

Faculty Director, Rice Center for Engineering Leadership John & Ann Doerr Professor of Mechanical Engineering Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

There may never be a more exciting time to serve as the faculty director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL), the only entity at Rice University dedicated to producing leaders in engineering and technology. Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering released its strategic plan in summer 2018, shortly after the university released the grand strategic vision known as the Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade (V2C2). This means there is a lot of energy and excitement on campus as the various academic units and operational offices gear up to launch new initiatives that aim to lift the stature of Rice University and to pursue specific goals over the next decade as described in the V2C2. Not to be left behind, RCEL has been meticulously planning and spending time in the RCEL “war room” developing what we call RCEL 2.0. RCEL 2.0 refers to the second act of RCEL, which not only aims to prepare Rice undergraduate engineering students to become managers and leaders of teams in the first years of their career, but also to inspire them to ultimately chart a path toward becoming leaders at the top of organizations. There are two facets of the revamped RCEL certificate experience that will enable this. First, RCEL will still provide a rich, focused suite of fundamental engineering leadership development courses. The well-known curriculum of fundamental engineering leadership principles and training experiences have been revisited, revamped, and in many cases, recovered. Numerous core competencies, such as communication, decision-making, and self-leadership remain, but the curriculum has also been augmented with new competencies in project management and engineering ethics to ensure that RCEL students graduate with a mission-minded drive to lead and help organizations flourish. continued on page 3




Undergraduate Students: 187 Seniors: 22 Graduate Students: 99







Civil and Environmental Engineering 2% Computational and Applied Mathematics 1%

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 13%

Other 10%

Undergraduate Students: 187 Seniors: 22 Graduate Students: 99

Mechanical Engineering 30%

BREAKDOWN BY MAJOR Computer Science 14%


Electrical and Computer Engineering 6%


Engineering Division 16%



Statistics 0% Materials Science and Nanoengineering 2%


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

MESSAGE FROM THE FACULTY DIRECTOR (continued) The second facet of the certificate will require each RCEL student to choose one of four career directions he/she is likely to pursue after graduating from Rice. These are Research, Industry, Pathways that are non-engineering, and Entrepreneurship. We call these career directions “RIPE,” an acronym that is a play on a word that represents our goal for RCEL to help Rice engineering students progress from young and gifted, to ripe and mature.

all sectors), the value of the analytical, quantitative thinker is going to continue to skyrocket. In addition, RCEL wants to equip its students to carry their objective, datadriven academic training forward to lead this new world.

• Entrepreneurship—Some of our students will go on to both start and lead companies, and RCEL plans to enable young people to do this with as few degrees of separation between • Research—Students who choose this technology idea initiation and technology direction might pursue a doctorate degree deployment. In the School of Engineering’s in engineering and then become a university strategic plan, it is recognized that leadership professor, or a researcher at a Fortune 500 and entrepreneurship are among the key company or government lab in the near staples upon which the School of Engineering term. Ultimately, we want them on a mission can differentiate itself. Leadership is to rise into the executive ranks within one to identified as one of the eight core values of two decades as a Chief Technology Officer or the school, and RCEL has been asked to serve a University President. as the central point of entrepreneurship education and training for engineering • Industry—In the industry career direction, students. Therefore, we want to ensure graduates might enter an engineering there are expanded offerings of technology rotational program at entrepreneurship so a major technology our students are ready company and then to launch companies “Research, Industry, Pathways go into management, formed around their that are non-engineering, and ultimately leading own ideas while and managing large fearlessly capturing Entrepreneurship. We call these groups and becoming the maximum value for career directions “RIPE,” an a divisional leader. themselves as quickly acronym that is a play on a word as possible, and as • Pathways that are founder-leaders. that represents our goal for RCEL non-engineering— to help Rice engineering students Increasingly, we are To achieve all of progress from young and gifted, to our goals, we have seeing professional graduate schools increased the number ripe and mature.” aggressively recruit of Professors in the our engineering Practice within RCEL. students to enter careers such as those in These are former company vice presidents and law, business, or medicine. Since the future leaders from major companies, organizations, is data driven (and by ‘data,’ I mean data at and even the military, who are all passionate the most granular, personal level in nearly about the RCEL mission. These all have at least


one degree in engineering. We also remain committed to maintaining a strong core of communication experts who hold Ph.D.s in such areas and have industry experience in technical communication because we often echo the saying that an engineer who cannot communicate will work for one who can. The rise of new technologies based on artificial intelligence (one of my own areas of research) and data analytics has shown us that individual persons increasingly will not be able to remain hidden or private. Therefore, the biggest currency of all will become which companies and institutions can be trusted. RCEL will send out future leaders in engineering and technology who are taught to hold ethics as a constraint in all of their decisions. In this annual report, we elaborate on the strategy we employed to develop and launch RCEL 2.0. We then report on the latest data from this past academic year, namely whether or not RCEL is making a difference. We also describe the prior academic

year chronologically, and highlight RCEL’s new Emerging Leaders in Technology and Engineering (ELITE) pre-college engineering leadership summer camp for high school students. The ELITE camp provides RCEL students coaches with summer internships and academic research experiences that enhance their abilities to lead the next generation of engineers. It also allows RCEL to help Rice to engage Houston, and ‘get beyond the hedges’ to impact the state of Texas and the nation. Finally, this report profiles RCEL students who are not waiting until after graduation to lead teams and organizations; they are putting on their super-leadership capes now and all over the university. In the following pages, we hope you will share our excitement about where RCEL has been and where it is going. We encourage you to visit us in person or online and contact us to see how you can join us as partners to help accelerate RCEL 2.0 now and well into the future.


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

RCEL Programming Overview

The Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL) was established in 2009 with a gift from John and Ann Doerr (’74 and ’75, electrical and computer engineering). RCEL enhances a traditional engineering education by supplementing skills not typically covered in the Rice engineering curriculum.

CERTIFICATE IN ENGINEERING LEADERSHIP The RCEL Certificate in Engineering Leadership is the only four-year engineering leadership certificate in Texas and one of only a handful of undergraduate programs like it in the United States. The program comprises a series of courses, labs, and RCEL-specific learning experiences. In 2018, RCEL concluded an extensive two-year evaluation of courses, curriculum, content, and general academic structure of the Engineering Leadership Certificate Program. Read about this process on page 7.

INTERNSHIPS Internships provide critical opportunities for students to practice leadership skills, learn about the engineering profession, and build a network of professional mentors. In summer 2017, 46 RCEL students completed internships through the course ENGI 241: Professional Excellence for Engineers.

MENTORSHIP The RCEL Mentorship Program, a student-led inititative, was implemented in 2015 with the goal of providing career path mentorship for RCEL students. Mentors, many of them Rice engineering alumni, help to shape the academic and professional growth of future engineering leaders. This is a unique opportunity for students to gain real-world knowledge while pursuing their degrees. In 2017-2018, 41 students were paired with mentors.




Beyond the broad liberal arts skills that Rice provides all students, RCEL provides engineering students with a wealth of opportunities for honing their technical writing and oral presentation skills. RCEL’s undergraduate communication program uses a Communication in the Disciplines (CID) model, in which RCEL faculty work with School of Engineering faculty to closely align communication skills with assignments and topics taught in existing engineering courses. In addition, RCEL faculty teach ENGI 242/542: Communication for Engineers - a course focusing on communication skills in technical situations. RCEL Communication faculty also support several non-degree educational programs on campus, including Nakatani RIES and the SCREECH Research Elevator Pitch Competition.

Although the Engineering Leadership Certificate is available only to undergraduate engineering students, RCEL has identified a need for leadership training at the Master’s and Ph.D. levels as well. Several RCEL core courses and graduatelevel coursework in leadership coaching and communication are available to graduate students, including ENGI 600: Graduate Communication Seminar, ENGI 614: Learning to Innovate, and ENGI 615: Leadership Coaching for Engineers.

STUDENT LEADERSHIP Each academic year, RCEL students compete for positions on a variety of key RCEL Student Leadership Committees. Collectively, these committees help to facilitate RCEL programming, create and maintain student engagement, and influence the program for future generations of Rice engineers.


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

RCEL 2.0

The RCEL Reinvention Journey

W by David Van Kleeck Professor in the Practice Rice Center for Engineering Leadership David Van Kleeck is a Professor in the Practice at the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership. He came to Rice after a 34-year career as technologist and manager in Shell’s Research and Development department, where he also led in Shell’s campus recruiting. He had a parallel career in the Army Reserve, retiring after 32 years as a Brigadier General. Van Kleeck received his Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Rice University in 1981.

hat do you do when you have a very successful academic program in place that has produced future engineering leaders for over five years? If you are an average person, you probably would say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If you’re a skilled leader, you probably take a step back, do a self-assessment, and say “We have five years of experience with the current curriculum, and we know what works and what doesn’t – let’s make the program better by using what we have learned to reinvent it.” RCEL began doing just that in late 2016. A committee of seven faculty members from various backgrounds was formed, including C. Fred Higgs III, RCEL Faculty Director; Kazimir Karwowski, RCEL Executive Director; Professors



in the Practice David Van understanding when it came to CEL’ s Faculty Director, Kleeck, Tom Phalen and Jim assessing the desired student C. Fred Higgs III, Hennessey; and Lecturers Gayle outcomes. We encountered encouraged us to take a Moran and Cesare Wright. some difficulties when we different view regarding two Starting with a clean slate, realized that our ambitions key areas. First, he wanted and infused with experience exceeded our ability to deliver. us to consider how to gain supported by student feedback, With a certificate program greater recognition for the we embarked on an 18-month consisting of ten or eleven RCEL program among Rice journey redefining the RCEL credit hours, it isn’t possible faculty. He wanted RCEL Certificate program students to be capable and curriculum. It had of adding value to the “Starting with a clean slate, and many unexpected turns, university community including some fits and infused with experience supported before rather than starts that, in hindsight, after graduation. The with student feedback, we we probably should impact of this shift embarked on an 18-month journey was an acceleration of have anticipated. However, there was no the program such that redefining the RCEL certificate established pathway to students would start program and curriculum.” follow or template from the overall curriculum an existing program to earlier rather than later. leverage. Other than our own to take students – even if experience and intuition, we they are experienced leaders Second, Higgs introduced were on our own. – from the bottom to the top the notion of alternative levels of the scale across all pathways that graduating Early in the process, we agreed of the competencies in the engineers might take. This that we would not alter the RCEL framework. We had to concept became known as current RCEL leadership prioritize and concede that “RIPE” (Research, Industry, framework. Its structure of mid-range within the hierarchy Pathways to non-engineering five domains and twenty one might be the best that could careers, Entrepreneurship). leadership competencies has be done within our constraints. Our curriculum development served us well. Defining the The Domain Level Learning would have to address the leadership competencies is one Objectives (see sidebar on page preparation of certificate thing. Having a way to measure 9) were the result of sometimes participants for at least one skill level is another matter. The intense discussion and a number of these specializations while committee recognized a need to of recycled efforts. providing earlier coursework establish a common language in the student’s undergraduate for describing a hierarchy of experience. Figure 1: Bloom’s Taxonomy skill levels. Enter Bloom’s Taxonomy (see Figure 1). eveloping leadership skills is a complex This hierarchy, process that builds layer arranged in order upon layer of knowledge, of increasing skill creative problem level from bottom solving, emotional to top, provided intelligence, supportive a common communication,



Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

RCEL 2.0

Learning Outcomes 1. Communicate Effectively

Apply effective oral, written, and interpersonal communication strategies.

2. Make Timely Decisions

Apply analytical and creative problem solving to deliver timely solutions based on the information at hand.

3. Work on Teams

Understand and analyze team dynamics to empower those around them to be successful in accomplishing team goals.

4. Manage Projects

Demonstrate knowledge of the basic tools and techniques to deliver projects on time, on budget and within scope.

5. Self-Lead

Develop self-awareness to build personal mastery, exhibit discipline, and make conscious selfimprovement.

6. Create a Vision

Develop a clear vision that sets future personal and team direction.

7. Apply Ethics and Analyze Values

Analyze personal and organizational values and apply ethics concepts to his/her decision-making.

8. Jump Start the Next Step

Demonstrate leadership concepts in at least one specialization; Research, Industry, Pathways to non-Engineering careers, or Entrepreneurship (RIPE).

experience, and coaching. It takes a series of courses to achieve significant results over an undergraduate’s fouryear tenure. Mindful of the desired outcomes, we chose to introduce topics in the early courses, develop them in successive courses, and then assess them during a capstone experience. We began to visualize the sequence of series and parallel steps necessary to complete a fit-forpurpose curriculum. It would consist of a main branch containing the leadership lecture and laboratory courses now taken in a prescribed order, culminating in the RIPE specialization course of the student’s choice. In parallel, students would participate in experiential learning opportunities, including coaching other students and participating in an internship. And finally, they would learn the basic tools of project management. The following steps seemed to flow well: • Build self-awareness through assessments and personal reflection • Develop self-mastery

through improved personal behavior modification to prioritize activities and set personal goals, as well to build communication skills • Grow followership and teamwork skills by working in small teams • Improve larger team leadership and organizational skills • Develop a sound understanding of the principles and practices of project management • Complete a personal vision through a RIPE specialization experience Over this skeleton, we began to apply layers of educational experiences (assuming little or no leadership experience on the part of entering students). We identified the lectures, laboratories, outside experiences, and coaching that would be needed to fulfill the learning objectives that would build skill levels across all of the leadership competencies. Our aim was to create a deliberate and systematic flow of course material to make it easier for students to recognize changes in their own leadership skills as they progress through the curriculum.


efore trying to flesh out course syllabi, we used the domain level objectives to establish specific learning outcomes that would be introduced in early courses with the goal of achieving at least an


“Understanding” level of skill. Then, subsequent courses would build on that level through more advanced experiential learning activities, including working in teams, participating in student organizations, and learning from internships. Interwoven throughout would be opportunities for students to use their skills in coaching others in a leadership laboratory setting. The result was a much more cohesive and synchronized course structure that captures the best aspects of the prior curriculum while streamlining the flow and eliminating redundancy.

new one. The first “The result was a much more RCEL 100 course cohesive and synchronized will begin in fall 2018 as a hybrid course structure that captured lecture/laboratory the best aspects of the prior course with the labs curriculum while streamlining complementing the lecture material, the flow through elimination of providing the redundancy.” students more opportunities to the old curriculum, the former practice skills and get coaching courses will be terminated. We relevant to the lecture content expect that the first students to throughout the semester. complete the new curriculum will be in the class of 2021. The RCEL 200 course syllabus is nearly complete and will be ready for implementation in the hile it is tempting to spring semester of 2019. The suggest that our RCEL roll out of the full curriculum curriculum redesign effort is will span two academic years. complete, we know that we RCEL 100 will be followed will learn even more during the in sequence with RCEL 200 roll out that will continue to (spring 2019), RCEL 300 (fall influence course content and 2019), and RCEL 400 (spring structure. As classroom teaching 2020). RCEL 450, along with progresses, good leaders never the RIPE specialization courses, stop learning and using their will begin in 2020. As legacy learning to improve. certificate students complete


We created a six-course structure consisting of 11 credit hours of academic work. A noncredit internship was retained, and the RIPE specialization and project management courses were added. To establish our own “brand,” the new courses would bear the RCEL label in their names. The resulting course Figure 2: RCEL Course Structure Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior structure and course X Optimal Path * Alternate Paths * Instructor Approval Needed F18 S19 F19 S20 F20 S21 F21 S22 names are shown in RCEL 100: Self-Awareness and the * * * X * * Figure 2. Engineering Leader *
















RCEL 450: Project Management and Leadership Action Learning





SELECT ONE RCEL 410: Engineering Launchpad - Research RCEL 420: Engineering Launchpad - Industry RCEL 430: Engineering Launchpad - Pathways RCEL 440: Engineering Launchpad - E-Ship





RCEL 300: Development of High Performing Engineering Teams


RCEL 241: Engineering Internship Practicum


RCEL 400: Leading High Performing Engineering Teams

al tim

s we considered options for implementation, it became clear that we needed a phased approach that addressed the need to “grandfather” in students enrolled in the old curriculum while beginning the

X Op


RCEL 200: Personal Development for the Engineering Leader





Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

IS RCEL MAKING A DIFFERENCE? The skills taught in RCEL are relevant and applicable for our students, both immediately at Rice and in their future careers. Determining the efficacy of RCEL’s curricula enables the program to evolve to meet the needs of the students. Each year, graduating seniors who complete all Certificate requirements are assessed through online surveys* against the total population of graduating Rice engineers. Based on the RCEL program-level learning outcomes, students are assessed in 53 areas of development. Results of the survey show that students who completed the RCEL program have an increase in their self-efficacy compared with the general engineering senior population in many areas.

Academic year 2018 marked the third graduating class to receive the official RCEL Certificate. To date, 80 students have completed all requirements to receive the Certificate. In 2018, we revised our certificate to include additional areas of potential student growth and will include results from these areas in next year’s report. RCEL will continue to follow alumni through the first five years of employment via LinkedIn and individual outreach. These data are still being collected, but we are starting to see trends. Based on stakeholder interest and needs, the following areas have been highlighted for this report:

1. How confident are you in your ability to give team members constructive criticism that improves their performance? HIGHLY CONFIDENT VERY CONFIDENT CONFIDENT NOT VERY CONFIDENT GENERAL RCEL



* Assessment adapted from the GEL Exit Survey developed by William Lucas, Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program.


2. How confident are you in your ability to step forward and take responsibility for a project activity when others have failed to get it started? HIGHLY CONFIDENT VERY CONFIDENT CONFIDENT NOT VERY CONFIDENT GENERAL RCEL



3. How confident are you in your ability to motivate a team of peers to complete a project? HIGHLY CONFIDENT VERY CONFIDENT CONFIDENT NOT VERY CONFIDENT GENERAL RCEL



4. How confident are you in your ability to help a team achieve its goals by securing the necessary resources? HIGHLY CONFIDENT VERY CONFIDENT CONFIDENT NOT VERY CONFIDENT GENERAL RCEL



5. How confident are you in your ability to make firm decisions and take action even though you may not have all of the necessary information? HIGHLY CONFIDENT VERY CONFIDENT CONFIDENT NOT VERY CONFIDENT GENERAL RCEL




Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

2017 - 2018 TIMELINE RCEL Engineering Liftoff 2018



Rice University Harvey Recovery Seminar - September 8

OwlSpark and Bayou Startup Showcase Immersive 12-week summer accelerator gives teams of Rice students and recent alumni firsthand experience in launching tech startups. RCEL Executive Director Kaz Karwowski and Communication Lecturers Gayle Moran and Beth O’Sullivan teach and coach multiple sessions on leadership, team-building, decision-making, negotiation, management, communication, motivation, and ethics.

Rice’s Crisis Management Team and the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies host a Hurricane Harvey recovery seminar for faculty and staff. RCEL Lecturer Cesare Wright (far left), whose home flooded in the storm, participates as a panelist and addresses such topics as property and flood insurance and the challenges of working with FEMA.


SCREECH Graduate Research Elevator Pitch Competition – November 7

Engineering Liftoff - September 9 RCEL’s sixth annual Liftoff convenes more than 200 freshmen, upperclass coaches, faculty and staff for a full afternoon of design challenges and community bonding. RCEL Faculty Director C. Fred Higgs III addresses the importance of leadership for engineers, and Engineering Associate Dean Keith Cooper shares stories about Rice engineers who have changed the world. RCEL student leaders step up to serve as event facilitators (roles previously filled by faculty).


Health and medical research dominate at the sixth annual SCREECH as nineteen graduate students from eight engineering departments deliver their 90-second “elevator pitches.” Second year bioengineering graduate student Melody Tan takes first place and a $500 prize. Participants receive prior coaching from RCEL communication faculty Jan Hewitt and Gayle Moran.

DECEMBER ASME-RCEL Holiday Party - December 3

RCEL Mentorship Kick-Off September 26 New students learn about RCEL’s Mentorship Program and meet their assigned mentors during a casual, catered reception. Kaz Karwowski welcomes the group, and RCEL student mentorship veterans Constantine Tzouanas (junior, bioengineering) and Rachel Nguyen (junior, electrical and computer engineering) provide advice about program experiences and expectations.

RCEL and Rice’s chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers cosponsor a holiday party for more than 50 ASME and RCEL leadership students. Event is coordinated by RCEL’s Student Engagement Committee – Patrick Garr (senior, chemical and biomolecular engineering); Anna Cowan (junior, computational and applied mathematics); and Kaelan Cuozzo (junior, computer science).


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review


RCEL Panel Discussion on Ethics and Leadership for Engineers – April 2

2018 Ignite Entrepreneurship Trek – March 7-10 Eighty-three business, engineering and natural sciences graduate and undergraduate students travel to Silicon Valley to meet and learn from some of the country’s most successful up-and-coming entrepreneurs. The group visits Airbnb, Parsable, Lyft, Tesla, KPCB, 5AM Ventures, Helix, Uber, Sight Machine, and Lendup, where speakers share personal stories about learning from their own successes and failures.



More than 80 Rice students, faculty, and staff come together to discuss ethics through the eyes of academics and engineering professionals. The panel includes C. Fred Higgs III, RCEL Faculty Director; Yvette Pearson, P.E., F.ASCE, Associate Dean for Accreditation & Assessment, George R. Brown School of Engineering; Sergio Kapusta ’81, ’06, Former Chief Materials Scientist of Royal Dutch Shell; and Priya Prasad ’08, Intellectual Property Attorney, Exxon Mobil Corp. Constantine Tzouanas (junior, bioengineering) moderates.


Higgs Keynotes at CERAWeek 2018 – March 9 RCEL Faculty Director C. Fred Higgs III keynotes at the “Future Energy Leaders” lunch during CERAWeek 2018 in Houston with a talk titled “The Rise of the Data Aware, Algorithmic Leader (faster, smarter, humbler, and more sustainable).” The program’s goal is to empower exceptional individuals from industry, academia, the policy-making sector, and NGOs to address current and future energy challenges.

RCEL’s inaugural spring semester “Splashdown” design competition (a follow-up to fall’s “Liftoff”) challenges participants to engineer water crafts out of cardboard and duct tape that can successfully traverse the Rice University Recreation Center pool without their passengers getting wet! Teams design and build for three hours, then race their creations. Event conceived and executed by RCEL’s Student Engagement Committee. Learn more about this new event on page 25.


End of Year Celebration – April 16 More than 75 members of the RCEL community celebrate another great year and enjoy authentic Texas BBQ. Executive Director Kaz Karwowski recognizes graduating seniors, thanking them for their time and dedication to the program, and Faculty Director C. Fred Higgs III presents the RCEL IMPACT Award to RCEL’s 2018 Student Director Emma Baker (senior, mechanical engineering).

B.L. Ramakrishna visits Rice University – April 24 RCEL hosts a lunch meeting between Rice students and B.L. Ramakrishna, Director of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) “Grand Challenge Scholars Program” – an aspirational vision of what engineering needs to deliver to all people on the planet in the 21st century. Dr. Ramakrishna encourages students to explore how they can participate, and later meets with faculty and staff to discuss how Rice University can prepare future engineers to lead the Challenges. (In the photo, meeting attendees stand beneath the wall of Rice alumni in the NAE.)

RCEL LAUNCHES NEW RICE ELITE SUMMER CAMP Over the summer 2018, RCEL created and launched the Rice “Emerging Leaders in Technology & Engineering” (ELITE) summer camp as a premier pre-college engineering program for high school students, with a unique focus on preparing young people to become future leaders in technology and engineering. The Rice ELITE Camp offered an experience based on the curricular model of the RCEL undergraduate certificate program. In addition to a focus on leadership and teamwork skills, the camp included three technical tracks to engage students in rigorous science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning activities. Students participated in a variety of lecture sessions, field trips, and design challenges that reinforced core education standards and content areas. Through a series of intensive project-based experiences and hands-on engineering exercises, students practiced applying the engineering design process to solve real world problems. The technical tracks introduced students to cutting edge advances in augmented/virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, and 3-D printing and modeling. Formalized communication training helped the teams develop a persuasive presentation to articulate a complex project concept to a diverse audience of faculty, staff, students, parents, and guests. “My child totally enjoyed ELITE, including visiting the professors’ labs and working with faculty. He thought programming the electric car was cool, and learned a valuable skill-set in working within a group of his peers. Applying all the lessons to a marketing strategy for a business was enlightening!” - ELITE Parent Testimonial


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

LEARNING THROUGH LEADING Student Clubs and Organizations In addition to leading within RCEL, many RCEL students helm student clubs or engineering design teams, while others seek roles in college government or as O-Week advisors. In 2017, 85% of RCEL students held leadership positions at their college or in a club at Rice, compared to 65% of students overall in the

School of Engineering. In leading these teams and organizations, students apply RCEL skills and training in real time, learning from the experience and their mistakes, and applying problem-solving solutions throughout the school year.



Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Rice Chapter 2017-2018 Organization Highlights • Increased members sponsored to conferences by 258%. • New mentorship program successfully established (MentorSHPE). • Initial budget increased by 1500%. • Community involvement efforts soon to be duplicated via a SHPE Jr. chapter at a local high school. “RCEL enabled me to improve my skills in time management, conflict mediation, task delegation, team motivation, and empowering others. Without RCEL and all I learned throughout the certificate courses, my role as SHPE president would not have come to a successful end.” - Ricardo Tapia, senior, mechanical engineering

2017 Organization Highlights • Completed design, built, and tested Mk 1.1 hybrid rocket engine. After initial engine firing, team extended burn duration to 10 seconds and integrated a Gas Injection Thrust Vector Control (GITVC) nozzle. • Members earned 25 Level 1 and 5 Level 2 High Power Rocketry Certifications from the Tripoli Rocketry Association. • Team competed in Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) USRC competition, representing Rice at a national competition for the first time. • Presented at the Houston Maker Faire and ran a rocketry day for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to launch their own model rockets and earn the Space Exploration Merit Badge. Team also mentored local high school students in their own efforts to build a hybrid rocket engine. • Team successfully flew rocket prototype and entered the 10,000 foot solid motor category of the 2018 Spaceport America Cup, an international rocketry competition in June 2018.


“RCEL has been one of Eclipse’s strongest supporters since the club’s formation. Managing a team of more than 70 engineering students is a leadership challenge as much as a technical one. RCEL is really the only place on campus dedicated to teaching the skills necessary to transcend engineering problem solving to managing group dynamics. The mentorship and guidance Professor (Kaz) Karwowski provides has enabled us to

CHUKWUDI NNALI, VICE PRESIDENT National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Rice Chapter 2017-2018 Organization Highlights • Implemented “Career Jams” program for members to work on professional development, including job applications, LinkedIn updates, resumes, and networking. Upperclassmen and professionals aided students. • Chapter grew in both size and involvement. 12.5% more members were sent to the national convention in 2018. • Increased relationship with corporate sponsors by having more corporate sponsored meetings, giving members the opportunity to network with professionals. “One of my roles as vice president of NSBE was to coordinate all of the chapter’s involvement in the National Convention. There were multiple layers of planning, allowing ample opportunities to practice project management skills. These skills directly transferred to organizing the event, as I was able to start early, set an effective schedule, and communicate effectively.” - Chukwudi Nnali, senior, mechanical engineering

promote a team culture that leverages the collective capabilities of all our members so that we can accomplish goals that no single one of us could reach on our own. RCEL has helped me learn that a rocket team isn’t made of rockets; it’s made of people.

- Sam Zorek, junior, mechanical engineering


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

ELIZABETH GOODNIGHT, CHIEF JUSTICE Brown College Student Government 2017 Accomplishments as Chief Justice • Successfully organized and executed security plans for a variety of public events. • Restructured Brown Court and redistributed responsibilities among Associate Justices. • Led the Court in official proceedings.

KATHERINE (GIGI) RILL, PRESIDENT Rice Electric Vehicle 2017-2018 Organization Highlights • Successfully created a motor controller and built a car that passed technical inspection at the Shell Eco Marathon Americas 2018. (Team competes in the Battery Electric Urban Concept division, the most technically challenging division in the competition.) • Launched new car and motor design at student coordinated event with more than 50 guests. Chuck McConnell, director of the Environment and Energy Initiative at Rice, served as keynote speaker. “In engineering, it’s always the little things that can make or break a project, but I could not be more proud of the way this team was able to push through some difficult challenges. From a leadership perspective it was RCEL that helped me develop the skills to keep the team focused and motivated toward working on our goal, even after we realized we wouldn’t get a chance to compete. We have great plans for next year and are looking forward to taking this momentum and succeeding in the future.” - Gigi Rill, junior, mechanical engineering

“One of the biggest skills I’ve developed through RCEL has been delegation. I recognized early that I really struggled with establishing a line between trusting people to carry out their responsibilities and ensuring that important tasks are finished. I’ve been able to work on that through RCEL labs and individual coaching, and it made a huge difference in my interactions with Associate Justices on the Court.” - Elizabeth Goodnight, senior, mechanical engineering

PATRICK GARR, STUDENT DIRECTOR Rice University O-Week 2017 2017 O-Week Highlights • Oversaw the orientation of 1,150 undergraduate students to Rice University. • Managed a team of 33 coordinators to plan the campus-wide and college specific events. • Chaired four committees and was responsible for several aspects of the week, including the campus-wide block party, the Rice Rally, and the campus-wide orientation book. • Successfully advocated for better conditions for coordinators by getting weekly summer meals increased from four to eight, and laying the foundations for changing how the required spring class is formatted. “RCEL helped me in several areas, but I think overall what was most helpful was focusing on the work that needed to get done. It was especially useful in organizing team meetings, delegating tasks, managing followership capabilities, and staying organized.” - Patrick Garr, senior, chemical and biomolecular engineering


CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES! Alejandro Akerlundh Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering ExxonMobil • Houston, Texas Emma Baker Mechanical Engineering Raytheon • Tuscon, Arizona Mary Bao Mechanical Engineering Boston College Law School • Newton, Massachusetts Pranav Bhat Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering A.T. Kearney • Singapore Massey Branscomb Materials Science and Nanoengineering Gether (OwlSpark) • Houston, Texas

Joshua Kaye Mechanical Engineering Rocket Lab USA • Los Angeles, California

Christopher Chee Electrical and Computer Engineering Samsung Austin Semiconductor • Austin, Texas

Peter Lucido Mechanical Engineering Lockheed Martin • Fort Worth, Texas

Chang Chen Computer Science Microsoft • Redmond, Washington

Juan Pablo Luna Mechanical Engineering Schlumberger • Location TBD

Patrick Garr Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering ICC Ingenerios • Madrid, Spain

Marius Mueller Computer Science GE Healthcare • Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Andrew Gatherer Mechanical Engineering Stanford University • Palo Alto, California

Emmanuel Chukwudi Nnali Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Enterprise Products • Houston, Texas

Elizabeth Goodnight Mechanical Engineering DMC, Inc. • Houston, Texas

Ryan Parks Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering AIG • Houston, Texas

Vidya Giri Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Epic Systems • Madison, Wisconsin

James Phillips Mechanical Engineering Daily Thermetries • Houston, Texas

Lawrence Harari Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Enterprise Products • Mont Belvieu, Texas

Nicholas Sepulveda Mechanical Engineering Notre Dame • South Bend, Indiana

Will Jones Mechanical Engineering Chevron • Covington, Louisiana

Ricardo Ivan Tapia Mechanical Engineering Chevron • Houston, Texas


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review


Student Leader Spotlights ENTREPRENEURSHIP Joey Lou | AtmoSpark

LEADERSHIP James Phillips, Juan Pablo Luna, Emma Baker, Will Jones | Engineering Liftoff Student Facilitators RCEL student leaders took on lead teaching roles as Pod Facilitators at the Center’s Engineering Liftoff freshmen orientation last fall – jobs formerly filled by faculty. James Phillips, Juan Pablo Luna, Emma Baker, and Will Jones (all seniors in mechanical engineering) participated. Facilitators are responsible for overseeing pods of 9 teams each, answering questions about the design challenge, ensuring that everyone follows the competition rules, and leading the final group debrief of all 36 teams.

Joey Lou (junior, mechanical engineering) joined team AtmoSpark, a start-up born at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, to compete in Rice University’s OwlSpark Accelerator program. AtmoSpark is developing a portable atmospheric water generator for sailboats that need fresh water while making multi-day cruises. Their technology captures atmospheric water and purifies it into clean drinking water. The team, which includes three Lamar alumni and two Rice undergraduates, launched their product and company at the fourth annual Bayou Startup Showcase on August 1.

Team Atmospark with RCEL student Joey Lou (junior, mechanical engineering) bottom right


MENTORSHIP Constantine Tzouanas, Charlene Pan, Rachel Nguyen | Peer2Peer Mentorship Program Thanks in part to the success of RCEL’s industry mentorship program, which matches leadership students with professional engineers, the RCEL Student Mentorship Committee developed an affiliate program that connects freshman and sophomore engineering students with juniors and seniors who are interested in helping underclassmen navigate Rice and RCEL. Committee members included Constantine Tzouanas (junior, bioengineering), Charlene Pan (junior, bioengineering), and Rachel Nguyen (junior, electrical and computer engineering). “Freshmen and sophomores are trying to figure out their time here at Rice, and the choices they make early on affect their future. With the Peer2Peer Mentor Program, we can pair underclassmen in the major with upperclassmen to help them make those fundamental decisions, from choosing courses, extracurricular activities and majors, as well as internships or research.” – Constantine Tzouanas, junior, bioengineering

RCEL delegation at Edinburgh castle

COLLABORATION Gigi Rill, Joanna Zhou, Will Jones, Steven Schepanski | RCEL Delegation to Liverpool For the second year, four RCEL Certificate students participated in an exchange program with Britain’s Liverpool John Moores University to obtain new cultural perspectives on leadership and university life. The delegation included Gigi Rill, (junior, mechanical engineering), Joanna Zhou (junior, electrical and computer engineering), Will Jones (senior, mechanical engineering), and Steven Schepanski (junior, electrical and computer engineering). The students attended LJMU classes and visited the university’s Centre for Entrepreneurship. In the evenings they visited several Liverpool cultural spots and spent a day exploring Edinburgh. The Rice visitors were hosted by LJMU engineering students who visited RCEL in 2017.

PERSONAL GROWTH Leadership Conferences As part of an ongoing initiative, RCEL provided funding for students to participate in national leadership conferences in 2018. The U.S. Naval Academy Leadership Conference was attended by Charlene Pan (junior, bioengineering), and Rene Carballo (freshman, electrical and computer engineering), accompanied by Jim Hennessey, RCEL Professor in the Practice. The Hatton W. Sumners Student Leadership Conference - Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs was attended by Massey Branscomb (senior, material science and nanoengineering) and Gentry Clark (junior, mechanical engineering). RCEL students at the U.S. Naval Academy


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

OUTREACH Rushi Bhalani | Provost “Nerd Pack” during Hurricane Harvey

Rushi Bhalani, third from left, and the Provost’s “Nerd Pack”

Shortly after Hurricane Harvey dropped more than 51 inches of rain in August 2017, devastating areas across Houston and Southeast Texas, a team of five Rice University students and alumni leaped into action. Provost Marie Lynn Miranda’s “Nerd Pack,” including RCEL student Rushi Bhalani (junior, computer science) analyzed data from online surveys and phone calls to determine what aid was needed to help the Rice community recover, and to match individuals with the support they needed. “One thing I got out of [this experience] was direction. I’d been confused about what I wanted to do. This experience showed me that data science, particularly when used to support my community, was something I might really enjoy. Analyzing impacts from Harvey showed us the good that computer science can do for our university. The university and our broader community need data analysis to make decisions, and computer science provides it.” – Rushi Bhalani, junior, computer science

INTERNSHIP Saurabh Harohalli | Process Engineering Intern, Covestra Saurabh Harohalli (junior, chemical and biomolecular engineering) interned at Covestro, a company that produces polycarbonates, polyurethane coatings, and foams used in day-to-day items from cars to cosmetics, in the Baytown, Texas location. Harohalli worked as a Process Engineering intern, analyzing the refrigeration lines in the coatings, adhesives, and specialties production unit and recommending solutions to potential problems. He also served as project manager for a sustainability project, leading a team to help a local school district identify energy efficient technologies to improve an old school gymnasium. “Through my projects at Covestro, I used many skills gained through RCEL from project planning to leading a team – all as an intern. I

felt comfortable structuring work breakdown structures and building Gantt charts to schedule tasks and deliver quality results. As project manager, I knew how to set deadlines for my team and motivate them to overcome challenges. My summer experience showed me how applicable RCEL training is no matter what level of an organization I am at.” – Saurabh Harohalli, junior, chemical and biomolecular engineering


RECOGNIZED EXCELLENCE Senior Leadership Awards ROBERT H. PARKS JR. PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN ENGINEERING LEADERSHIP | Jacob Behling From 2015 to 2017 Jacob Behling (chemical and biomolecular engineering) was part of an Engineers Without Borders team that built a water pumping station for a village in Nicaragua, and he now serves as vice president of Duncan College. For the last two summers, Behling has received internships with Anandarko Petroleum. After graduation, Behling will go to work for Anandarko in Colorado. “Jacob is one of the best undergraduate students we have ever had in the lab, certainly in the top five percent.” - Clarence A. Miller, the Louis Calder Professor Emeritus in Chemical Engineering Research RCEL ENGINEERING LEADERSHIP AWARD | Andrew Gatherer Andrew Gatherer (mechanical engineering) is co-founder, propulsion team lead and design lead for Rice Eclipse, which has designed and tested hybrid rocket engines. In 2016, he worked as a student intern at Space Exploration Technologies in Hawthorne, Calif. The RCEL Engineering Leadership Award goes to a senior whose qualities of character, leadership and responsibility have been outstanding during their undergraduate years at Rice. “During his time at Rice, Andrew has been a major driver behind the success of the student rocketry group Rice Eclipse, which has grown into one of Rice’s premier engineering student organizations. He is also an important

member of the engineering community at Rice, primarily through his active participation in the Mechanical Engineering Student Advisory Board.” - Matt Elliott, lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering RCEL IMPACT AWARD | Emma Baker Emma Baker (mechanical engineering) served as RCEL Student Director during 20172018 and has been active in RCEL throughout her time at Rice. She has dedicated her time in RCEL to improving the experience of RCEL students through improvements to the organization of the Student Leadership Committees and to growing the RCEL Community. The RCEL IMPACT Award is given annually to a gradating senior for their dedication to RCEL. “Emma has been invaluable to RCEL throughout her time at Rice. She’s led the charge to improve RCEL on several different fronts and was able to bring students together to achieve the Center’s goals.” - Kaz Karwosksi, RCEL Executive Director 2018 RICE ENGINEERING ALUMNI AWARDS • Chukwudi Nnali | Rice Engineering Alumni Bob Dickson Award • Massey Branscomb | Rice Engineering Alumni Bob Dickson Award • Emma Baker | Rice Engineering Alumni Leadership Excellence Award • Constantine Tzouanas | Rice Engineering Alumni Junior Merit Award – Bioengineering • Andrew Gatherer | Rice Engineering Alumni Distinguished Senior • Samuel Zorek | Rice Engineering Alumni Outstanding Junior • Gigi Rill | Rice Engineering Alumni Student Grant Winner – Rice Electric Vehicle Team • Elizabeth Goodnight | Rice Engineering Alumni Student Grant Winner – Rice Flight • Samuel Zorek | Rice Engineering Alumni Student Grant Winner – Rice Eclipse • Andrew Gatherer | Rice Engineering Alumni Willy Revolution Award – Rice Eclipse


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review

MAKING A SPLASHDOWN WITH STUDENT-LED SPRING RECRUITING EVENT The challenge was simple – can you cross the Rice University Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation Center pool without getting wet? Seven teams answered the call at the first RCEL Splashdown Engineering Design Competition on March 31. Determining what would be splashing down was up to the RCEL Student Leadership. “I wanted to give them an opportunity to decide what this event should be,” said RCEL Executive Director Kaz Karwowski. “We like to pull in our students for help in recruiting new students to the program, and this was an opportunity for them to develop a fun recruiting event from start to finish.”


they could implement to improve their building process. At 3:00 p.m., all teams were positioned with their creations at the starting line along the edge of Rice’s competition pool. “We had more successful crafts than I thought we would,” said Karwowski, laughing. “All the teams made it across at least once. It’s a testament to engineering students at Rice. They understood the task to be done, and they know how to build things that work.” The spring Splashdown event was coordinated by the Student Engagement Committee – Patrick Garr (senior, chemical and biomolecular engineering; and Anna Cowan (junior, computational and applied mathematics). “Patrick and I wanted to host an event that was similar to Liftoff (in the fall), but that allowed for even more creativity and ingenuity,” said Cowan. “People were really excited and enthusiastic about the potential of a oneday cardboard boat competition, and I’m so happy we were able to design an event that emphasized team work, innovation, and fun!” Garr and Cowan created the exercise and scoring criteria from scratch, building on the Liftoff exercise and Engineering Leadership Labs (ELLs) offered in the RCEL curriculum. RCEL Professors in the Practice David Van Kleeck and Tom Phalen reviewed their work and offered suggestions. For logistics, Garr and Cowan worked with RCEL Marketing and Events Specialist Amanda Prestia to design and implement the event, from registration, exercise, and catering to the race itself; they also held a test run to make sure the exercise was feasible in the given time period. Beginning at 11:00 a.m., teams had three hours to build their crafts, using only cardboard boxes and duct tape. During the lunch hour, teams discussed with RCEL Certificate student coaches what leadership and management techniques

After the race, Karwowski led the group in a debrief, discussing what went well in their design process and race strategy, and what could be improved. “The debrief is a huge part of RCEL curriculum and training,” explained Karwowski. “We wanted to give them a taste of an RCEL ELL, with the debrief to share lessons learned and figure out how to improve.” “I thought Splashdown was a great success!” said Cowan. “The students who attended were challenged and had a fun time racing in the pool. We received very positive feedback that, in addition to the coaches’ observations, will allow us to host an even better Splashdown next year!”


Rice Center for Engineering Leadership | Annual Review


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RCEL Annual Report 2018  
RCEL Annual Report 2018