U.S. News & World Report wanted to understand what could help aspiring engineers succeed, an important question since a recent survey indicated that one-third of college freshman plan to major in science and engineering. The good ones will solve big problems.

So, what can help students become the really good engineers? So they asked Edward Crawley ’76, SM ’78, ScD ’81, professor of engineering and director of MIT’s Bernard M. Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, to share the advice he gives to his MIT students.

Ed Crawely presents leadership ideas.

Ed Crawley presents leadership ideas.

Here are a few of Crawley’s tips:

  • Identify the people who inspire you, and find out what makes them tick. If you love Apple products, Steve Jobs may be your idol, or perhaps you love the Segway and its creator, Dean Kamen. You can easily find out a lot of information about Jobs and Kamen—or just about any other prominent person in technology—so use it to look into what’s helped these people and their companies become so successful. Then emulate their good traits in your personal, scholastic, and professional life.
  • Find your flaws—and fix them. As with any skill, leadership needs constant improvement. When you are part of a team, try to create a way to get feedback from team members, group leaders, and professors. When you have concrete feedback on how people view you, you can work to improve your skills, including communication and leadership. Plus, you’ll learn how to accept—and give—constructive criticism. That’s absolutely necessary for your future career.

Read all of Crawley’s 10 Tips for Success for Engineering Students.