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Army Colonel Teaches Northeast Engineers to Be Leaders

Northeast professor Mike Manning served in conflict zones in Iraq in 2005. He then went on a dangerous mission in Afghanistan. This was booked for duty in Kosovo, another site of conflict early in his career.

In his previous life as a U.S. Army Colonel, Manning developed a set of leadership skills under duress. Engineering Since his 2020 when he became a Professor of Leadership, Manning has applied these lessons to help graduate students unlock and explore their potential.

Manning is a professor at the Gordon Institute for Engineering Leadership. His one-year program trains up to 45 Northeast students each year in his team building and leadership skills. Known as “Colonel Mike” among his students, Manning supports the vision of Navy veteran and technology entrepreneur Bernard M. Gordon by applying his experience in new ways. “Bernie Gordon sees the military as the preeminent leadership education organization in the country,” said retired Army Colonel Steve McGonagle, who suggested Manning as his replacement when he retired from the Gordon Institute two years ago. I’m here.

Mike Manning's headshot
Professor Mike Manning (or known to his students as “Colonel Mike”) at the Gordon Institute for Engineering Leadership.Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

After leaving the Navy and graduating with a degree in electrical engineering from GI Bill, Gordon became known as the father of high-speed analog-to-digital conversion, leading teams to design and build a variety of high-tech devices. Gordon, 95, along the way convinced him to start three companies and set up research institutes and programs at multiple universities, including Northeastern University.

“He kept finding himself hiring engineers who lacked some of the key skills to invent, innovate, and most importantly implement,” said Simon, director of the Institute. Pitts says “So he has invested heavily in Northeastern and other institutions to try and fix the problem.”

The Institute’s goal is to help broaden the horizons of engineers and technical professionals, taking into account the views of colleagues representing different disciplines and the needs of customers. Students are divided into groups so that each can focus on supporting half a dozen teammates.

“Our premise is that leadership is a skill that can be taught,” says Stephen Klosterman, an engineering leadership professor who helped design the engineering curriculum. Faculty of Computer Science. “The 23-year-old U.S. Army Second Lieutenant is extremely determined, yet possesses precision, composure, and ability to command dozens, if not hundreds, of men in his critical situations.” and they are taught that skill during the course of their training, as Army officers.”

Rather than waiting for engineers to develop leadership traits through years of on-the-job training, the institute focuses on those skills in what Klosterman calls a “one-year boot camp.” . The program culminates in an assignment project (equivalent to a dissertation) in which each student, with the help of teammates and mentors, identifies and solves current organizational problems.

Half of the institute’s graduates are promoted within a year and three-quarters are promoted within two years. The students represent a very diverse group of life experiences from all over the world, and Manning feels at home in her home.

“The Army has to be the most diverse secular organization in America,” says Manning. “I learned in the military the idea of ​​bringing in people with very different perspectives and backgrounds and creating opportunities for them to use their voices.”

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