College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Making leadership strides: Engineering Student Services grad assistant named 2019 Rising Star

Katie Friesen was recently awarded the Association of Leadership Educators (ALE) 2019 Rising Star award, making her the first grad student to ever receive the award.

The prestigious award recognizes early career professionals who have made significant contributions in service and scholarship that advance our understanding of leadership education, leadership development and leadership studies.

Friesen, a doctoral student in the School of Education, has worked as a graduate assistant for Engineering Student Services for the last four years, and in the fall she will be the graduate assistant for the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) program.

Read on for more from Friesen about her work supporting engineering student leadership and plans for the future.


What sort of leadership training have you introduced to the College of Engineering?

For the past five years I have been developing curriculum and teaching the engineering leadership courses and advising the Emerging Leaders in Engineering student organization for the College of Engineering.

I developed training materials for all student leaders of engineering student organizations. These materials cover topics related to university policies and procedures, organization mission and vision development, strategic planning, and transition planning for student organizations.

Recently, I have convened a number of engineering student organizations to create the completely student-led leadership conference, Engineering Leaders of Tomorrow. This conference hosts a dinner and keynote speaker on day one and keynotes and breakout sessions on day two. Students can choose sessions in four development areas: professional development, leadership in the everyday world, planning for the future, and inclusive leadership. We will have our third annual conference this fall.


How has your work contributed to the success of engineering students?

Together these experiences have provided students with a foundation for developing the knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes through application and critical reflection to be efficacious leaders in their engineering teams and organizations.

Even more, these experiences challenge students to think beyond their ability to communicate and motivate groups of people, to critically consider their impact on society, innovating to solve the greatest engineering challenges in our world.

Our students have graduated, pursuing graduate work or careers in engineering and project management at top companies like Merck, General Electric, Pella, Trane, Vermeer and many more.


What are your future plans for leadership development of engineering students?

This fall I will be teaching a leadership course for first-year women enrolled in STEM majors at Iowa State through WiSE.

Students will study leadership, diversity, and inclusion in the STEM fields, developing their capacity and efficacy to create change in their fields and society.

The course will employ twelve peer facilitators—upper-level students enrolled in STEM majors—to lead our students in their learning and developing their own knowledge and skills related to teaching and mentoring.

This multifaceted course sets the foundation for the critical work these students, including our peer facilitators, will do in their careers and society. We are very excited about this endeavor!