June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.284.1 - 12.284.13
Assessment of Ethics Modules in an Engineering Curriculum
Decisions made by engineers have a profound effect on the quality of life for citizens of the entire world. As such, their actions and decisions need to be governed by honesty, integrity, impartiality and fairness. Public health and safety considerations should dictate their professional behavior. (Unger, 1994). Engineers are expected to demonstrate that they adhere to the highest principles of ethical conduct. About 5% of questions on the F.E. exam correlate to engineering ethics.
At Texas A&M University, evidence of this interest in professional ethics culminated in the creation of a new course in engineering ethics, as well as a project funded by the National Science Foundation to develop material for introducing ethical issues into required undergraduate engineering courses. Case Western Reserve University has created an Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science. University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Darden School of Graduate Business Administration have created a web site that is dedicated to the dissemination of engineering ethics case studies and supporting resources for students and faculty. The Ethics Updates site of the University of San Diego is another widely cited example. Illinois Institute of Technology’s Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions has made significant strides in promoting ethics amongst engineering societies.
All these are very strong signals that educators have been prompted to introduce, integrate and incorporate engineering ethics scenarios into college curriculum, both at the two year and at the four year levels. (Schlager, 1994). Furthermore, it is very important to recognize that such activities promote the critical thinking abilities of students and sharpen their oral and written communication skills. (Whitbeck, 1996). In this paper, the authors describe how they have incorporated and assessed several modules and exercises that can help students get a good exposure into this important area of engineering ethics. In addition, they also provide an analysis of the data they have collected.
At the Annual Meeting of the Pacific Southwest Section of the American Society for Engineering Education, Professor Tim Healy presented a paper entitled Teaching Ethics and Teaching Engineering - Some Parallels. Professor Healy is a Scholar of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, California and is very active in the teaching of ethics to engineers. (Healy, 1997).
Professor Healy indicates that there are strengths and weaknesses in using case studies while teaching ethics to engineering students. Regardless, it is important to recognize the fact that when ethics scenarios are discussed with students, in a classroom environment, case studies do offer a smooth vehicle and thereby constitute a very valuable resource data bank. (Northouse, 2001).
Narayanan, M. (2007, June), Assessment Of Ethics Modules In An Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1472
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