Four Engineering Professors Named Fellows for STEM Leadership Program

UNIVERISTY PARK, Pennsylvania — Four faculty members from Penn State College of Engineering have been selected as part of the 2022-23 cohort of Drexel University’s ELATES (Executive Leadership in Academic Technology, Engineering and Science) program. The one-year, part-time leadership program provides training and development for female teachers and administrators.

Selected Penn State faculty include Jingjing Li, professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering; Scarlett Miller, professor of engineering design, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, and manufacturing and director of the Penn State Center for Research in Design and Innovation; Qian Wang, associate director of the faculty and professor of mechanical engineering; and Sarah Zappe, assistant dean for teaching and learning and director of Penn State Leonhard Center. Penn State Scholars are part of a cohort of 30 faculty members from more than 25 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada.

The ELATES program is designed to promote women, as well as faculty allies of all genders, into institutional leadership roles, according to the ELATES page at Drexel. Scholars typically hold leadership positions in academic engineering, computer science, and other STEM fields and must commit to increasing the representation of women in STEM.

“As teachers, we’re trained in the basic application of our science and how to educate students, but we’re not trained to be effective leaders,” Miller said. “As someone very interested in joining leadership within the University, I wanted to make sure I had the right preparation to lead effectively. The ELATES program provides this training and the support network I need to be an effective leader.

Fellows complete three in-residence sessions of four to six days each to enhance their knowledge and skills in higher education business practices, project management, and leadership communication. Along with in-person seminars, participants complete online readings and assignments, participate in monthly conference calls with learning communities and senior advisors, interview officials at their home institution, receive professional mentorship and through peers and develop an Institutional Action Project (IAP), where they create a project to benefit their home institution and put into practice the new skills learned through the program.

“The PEI gives us the opportunity to explore a project that we are passionate about and that can have a significant impact on our own institution,” said Zappe. “Having the ability and time to work on a project that interests me and that I know can have a positive impact on the College of Engineering is very exciting for me.”

Li was chosen as an ELATES Fellow in 2020 but postponed enrollment due to pandemic concerns.

“I look forward to hearing about the experiences of successful administrators and faculty who participate in the ELATES program and to learn more about university administrative structures,” she said. “I also hope to gain confidence in my leadership skills to provide effective leadership in STEM education contexts within the university community.”

Wang said she had heard good things about the program from former participants, many of whom held administrative positions after completing the program.

“One of the main purposes of participating in the program is to network with female leaders from other institutions, which I am most excited about,” she said. “Another major goal of mine is to receive formal training in leadership skills to meet the many challenges facing higher education today.”

The program will end with a forum in March 2023 where fellows will present their institutional action projects that they have developed in collaboration with the management of their organization, which functions as the cornerstone of the program.

Kevin E. Boling