Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Member

Joshua D. Summers, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Gregory M. Mocko

Committee Member

Marissa Shuffler


The primary purpose of this work is to establish a protocol capable of identifying functional leadership behaviors in engineering design teams. The protocol is grounded in general leadership theory and research performed on collaborative design teams. A pilot study is used to evaluate the protocol applied to design team meetings. Three different raters applied the leadership protocol to a video recording of a graduate student team performing a collaborative function structure modeling activity. The results of the pilot study highlighted a need to identify the design space and activities that correspond to each leadership function observation to establish a relationship between functional leadership and engineering design. Next, a case study approach is used to observe functional leadership behaviors in three mechanical engineering senior design teams. Weekly team meetings and design reviews were recorded with video and audio equipment. Two raters applied the protocol to thirteen hours and thirty minutes of design team meetings and nine hours of design review meetings. The results of the case study indicate that technical leadership, observed in the problem and solution design spaces, are most frequently observed as Sensemaking and Providing Feedback. The case study also reveals that some team members demonstrated leadership functions in the project space, while others were observed in the problem and solution spaces. Additionally, the results highlight the limited amount of leadership observations in the problem space, thus indicating that teams might be neglecting the problem definition phase of the design process. The case study results serve as foundations for future research focused on the leadership functions observed in the problem and solution design spaces.



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