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A Human Rights Challenge To The Engineering Profession

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Papers Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.48.1 - 9.48.9



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Paper Authors

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Daniel Lynch

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2140

A Human Rights Challenge to the Engineering Profession Ethical Dimensions and Leadership Opportunities in Professional Formation

Daniel R. Lynch MacLean Professor of Engineering Dartmouth College Hanover NH USA March 17, 2004


In the American system we have insisted on a careful positioning of engineering education. The first professional degree occurs after 4 years of college (anomalously 5 at Dartmouth) and there is widespread commitment to university-style affiliation with non-professional students, curricula, and norms of scholarly development. We as custodians of the Engineering disciplines must understand this important achievement and what it entails vis-à-vis what should and shouldn’t be taught. We must perform against recognizable scholarly criteria – we must create, conserve, and convey the central animating ideas, the important facts, the useful analyses, and initiate careers that are authentically productive. And we must look to the intellectual nourishment of a whole professional cadre, which populates numerous external institutions and creates very specific demands on the time of our students and faculty. To fail on either of these dimensions is to lose our preferred place in American higher education. So there is much at stake in contemplating our roles in the large.

A few facts about engineering are familiar and useful. There are about 1.5 million American engineers; it is the most popular occupation among American males. About half or these are employed in the manufacturing industries; 12% are in government service, 3% are self- employed. About 65,000 students earn the BS yearly. 20% of these are female, 24% American minorities, and 7% foreign nationals. Most engineers are employed in corporate life; a very small percentage are officially licensed as professionals, and that percentage is concentrated away from the high-technology and high-profit areas today.

Among Engineering Colleges, the accredited curricula are overstuffed to the point of breaking. There is huge intellectual gap between home, church, and secondary school ecucation on the one hand; and professional practice on the other. The widespread response is reliance on “Liberal Arts” or “Humanities” courses to fill this gap. Courses are typically doing multiple duty on several educational fronts: basic reading, writing, and speaking skills; familiarity with cultures

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exhibition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Lynch, D. (2004, June), A Human Rights Challenge To The Engineering Profession Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13504

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