Transforming students into leaders

SIU Leadership Development Program

By Rebecca Renshaw

The SIU College of Engineering is one of very few STEM colleges (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the nation that offers a technical leadership program. The SIU Leadership Development Program provides a direct bridge from leadership training to a career as a technical leader. Founded in 2006 by Dick Blaudow, an engineering alumnus and chairman of the board of Advanced Technology Services in Peoria. Blaudow and his wife, Brigitte, established the program as a way to help develop the next generation of America’s technical leaders.

Bruce DeRuntz, professor of technology at SIU and director of the College of Engineering’s Leadership Development Program, says the program truly transforms these students into leaders. “To be successful, these students know they have to prepare for success. It’s great to watch the transformation happen in these students as they go through the LDP program,” DeRuntz said.

Breanna Whitley, a junior, serves as the president of the LDP and is a scholarship recipient from the National Science Foundation. When asked to describe the program, Whitley responded, “Where do I begin? This program is not just an RSO. We develop a family here.  We truly care about each other,” Whitley said.

The team of students works on several community projects throughout the year. Some of the most recent projects include building a handicapped ramp to the women’s center and laying down new flooring for the Science Center.

LDP members’ personal experiences

Breanna Whitley

Breanna Whitley

“I believe the best leadership is an act of love. We all care about each other and how we can make a positive impact on the world,” said Whitley.

Bob Lozar-McDonald

Bob Lozar-McDonald

Bob Lozar-McDonald is a senior and has been in the program for since 2017. He is a recipient of a National Science Foundation scholarship. “Traditionally, many engineering students are introverts. This program helps students develop those softer skills of building interpersonal relationships. Many corporations are willing to pay to develop those skills,” said Lozar-McDonald.

Andrew Paxton

Andrew Paxton

Andrew Paxton is a senior and is deeply committed to the LDP program.  “In the workforce, there is a demand for leadership but not many universities supply leadership training. It’s fantastic that we are able to enter the workforce possessing leadership skills and are ready to succeed,” Paxton said.

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