In October, the Dordt College Engineering Society met for a Defender Days Dinner. We had a great turnout with over 60 attendees, including Dordt engineering faculty, senior engineering students, and close to 40 Dordt engineering alums currently serving in industry.
The meeting focused on leadership in engineering, and we heard from three Dordt engineering alums currently serving in leadership roles. Below the picture we have collected bios, a video, and summary material from meeting.
Mike Vander Wel (’89)
Mike serves as Chief Engineer for Equipment & Tool Engineering at The Boeing Company. In this role, Mike is responsible for providing functional leadership and re-establishing agile capability and capacity for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Between 2001 and 2008, Mike held development and integration roles on the 787 program. He and his wife Kerry reside in the Seattle area with their four children.
This video conversation with Mike was presented at the Society meeting:
Doug Post (’92)
Doug serves as President of The Interstates Companies’ engineering business unit. Based in Sioux Center, Interstates is a 700-person electrical engineering, construction, and controls system company serving industrial clients in the value-added agriculture sector. Doug and his wife Julie live in Sioux Center with their four children.
Handouts summarizing Doug’s presentation at the Society meeting:
Paul Ross (’99)
Paul serves as Engineering Manager at Groschopp, Inc. in Sioux Center. Groschopp is a fractional horsepower motor and gearmotor manufacturer. They design and manufacture permanent magnet DC, AC induction, brushless DC and universal motors as well as parallel shaft, planetary, right angle worm and right angle bevel gear reducers. Paul and his wife Amy live in Sioux Center with their two children.
Summary of Paul’s leadership presentation at the Dinner:
Paul talked about dealing with imperfect situations within a broken world and how we can respond in faith. As leaders we need to be learners as we seek discernment in life’s sticky situations. He gave three practical steps that have helped him become a better learner and as a result, hopefully a better leader.
1) Be slow to speak. Listen intentionally when conversing with colleagues, co-workers, other Dordt alumni, etc.
2) Ask questions to force learning. Be careful to phrase questions that do not point fingers at others but rather points the finger at ourselves… “How can I help… what can I do to assist…”
3) Be quick to take action. When we listen, and ask questions we are soliciting feedback. Nothing invalidates a leader more than not taking quick action on that feedback.
Following the three speakers, we discussed two follow-up questions. The questions and key takeaways are listed below.
How could these leadership ideas/principles/programs be used where you work?
- Develop and live by a personal mission statement
- Lead where you are at … we all have unique strengths
- Strike a work-life balance right now … it can’t wait
- Serve in your community … this service helps you continue to grow
- Recommended resources: Question Behind the Question, Strengths Finder, DISC Assessment, TED talks
What could the Dordt engineering program do to foster leadership?
- Encourage students to take hold of their leadership potential
- Co-curricular activities develop and refine leadership skills
- Students: You ARE learning leadership. Faculty: Be more explicit about identifying leadership aspects in curricular/co-curricular work.
- List 12 topics … figure out how we could integrate them into courses (rather than separate course)
- For example, on projects … first thing is to organize team, set up roles
- More alum-student interaction
We hope these resources are valuable to you as you strive to serve Christ in your engineering work! If you have any additional follow-ups, questions, or ideas, feel free to contact us.
Here are a few more photos from the event: