Book by David L. Goetsch
Review by Nicole P. Roop
Associate Director, Aerospace Engineering Undergraduate Studies
University of Maryland, College Park

Do not let the title of this book fool you – any individual, with a degree in any discipline, can learn from these career strategies. Based on interviews with over 200 highly successful engineers and engineering-related professionals, the author lays out 20 specific success strategies and how to implement these strategies. As Goetsch states, “Mastering the courses you take in college is important…But just excelling in college is not enough. There are many things to learn beyond the content of your college courses if you want to build a winning career” (p. 44). A former student-athlete, Marine, professor, and college administrator, Goetsch describes these strategies in a myriad of ways. Through professional profiles, periodic summaries within the chapters highlighted as “success tips,” and his use of personal stories and experiences, Goetsch provides readers with more than just strategies; he provides great insight without preaching to his audience.  

Faculty and staff who work within an engineering school/college will quickly recognize that these success strategies mirror a number of program outcome criteria items determined by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Goetsch does not mention ABET or accreditation, however, many of the so-called ‘soft-skills’ engineering curricula must teach students are addressed in this book. This would include an understanding of professional and ethical responsibilities as an engineer, an ability to communicate effectively and function in teams, and an understanding of engineering in a global and societal context (ABET, 2007). 

Goetsch’s book would also serve as an excellent textbook for instructors of career or professional development courses, and multiple copies should be available in every career center. The chapters are brief enough for students to read without becoming bored, and each is concise and hits the points being made. Review Questions and Discussion Questions listed at the end of the chapters bring the topic full circle for students while giving instructors areas or issues to delve into further. Chapters with excellent review and discussion questions centered on integrity and ethics, setting high expectations and developing a plan to achieve them, and self discovery and time management.

Nonetheless, there are drawbacks to this book. As the chapters progress, the success tips, while useful become slightly annoying and begin to read like motivational posters. Additionally, there is little discussion on diversity issues in the workplace. Collaborative leadership is a style gaining strength on campuses and in the field (Rost & Barker, 2000), and is cited as the preferable style used by women and minority groups (e.g., Kezar, 2000). Unfortunately, outside of a chapter on and discussions throughout about teamwork, Goetsch explains the strategies and provides profiles based on hierarchical leadership styles and examples. Finally, the authors use of sports analogies and metaphors may be lost on those athletically-challenged and those who are not sports fanatics. 

Overall, the strengths of the book far outweigh its weaknesses. This book can ultimately benefit any professional; new or seasoned, engineer or not.


ABET, Inc. (2007, November). Criteria for accrediting engineering programs. Retrieved February 22, 2008, from http://www.abet.org/forms.shtml

Kezar, A. (2000). Pluralistic leadership – bringing diverse voices to the table. About Campus, 5(3), 6-11.

Rost, J. C., & Barker, R. A. (2000). Leadership education in colleges: Toward a 21st century paradigm. The Journal of Leadership Studies, 7(1), 3-12.

Building a winning career in engineering: 20 strategies for success after college. (2007). Book by David L. Goetsch. Review by Nicole P. Roop. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 219 pp. Price $23.99. ISBN # 0131192116
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |