June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.87.1 - 26.87.17
A Professional Practices Course for Computer Science and EngineeringThe coverage of ethics and professionalism in engineering and computer science programs hasbecome standard since ABET incorporated these and other “soft skills” as student outcomes inEAC and CAC accreditation criteria. Many programs have chosen to incorporate these topics invarious courses across the curriculum while others have developed standalone courses. OurComputer Science and Engineering Department offers ABET accredited programs in computerengineering, computer science, and software engineering. Initially, the department chose to coverethics, contemporary issues, life-long learning, and communications in the two-semester seniordesign course sequence. About five years ago, the department observed that this approach wasnot as effective as needed and decided to introduce a new standalone course covering these andother topics. This paper covers details of the course and discusses lessons learned.The course is titled Professional Practices and is currently offered as a senior-level course.Students typically take the course prior to or simultaneously with the first course in a two-semester senior design course sequence. The course is structured as five modules – professionalethics, contemporary issues, entrepreneurship, communications, and career planning. Studentsstudy various topics related to the ethical and social impact of computing technology and theresponsibilities that engineers and computer scientists have in shaping this technology and itsapplications. More specifically, they explore contemporary issues such as privacy, freedom ofspeech, intellectual property, crime, safety, human needs, innovation, entrepreneurship, andcareer planning. Students enhance their written and oral communications skills by completingassignments on these and other topics. Guest speakers from industry are scheduled throughoutthe course in order to give relevance to the topics being covered.Students are graded on the basis of oral and written reports relating to one or more of the moduletopics and examinations on the lecture notes and text materials. Specifics and frequency ofassignments and examinations have varied over the history of the course based on class size andinstructor preference. Currently, the following assignments are being given. Professional Ethics – Students work in teams of three to analyze and report on various ethics scenarios. A short oral report and a one-page written report are required. Life-long Learning – Students must attend a seminar or workshop and submit a one-page written report on what they learned. Elevator speech – Students deliver a three-minute personal commercial or sales pitch. Term essay – Students write a 500-word essay on a contemporary issue related to computing technology or a 500-word proposal for funding of a start-up company.Current textbooks for the course are A Gift of Fire, 4th Edition, Sara Baase, Pearson PrenticeHall, 2013 and Professional Practices in Computer Science, Vols 1, 2, and 3, Pearson LearningSolutions, 2010.In summary, the paper covers the details of a Professional Practices course for students incomputer engineering, computer science, and software engineering. The five year evolution ofthe course, including lessons learned and future plans, are covered. The results of a studentlearning assessment exercise are also presented.
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