Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
The National Society of Professional Engineers’ (NSPE) Code of Ethics for Engineers has, as its first Fundamental Canon, the admonition: Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public. Despite recognizing and accepting this, the majority of today’s engineering students are given little guidance on safety. Product-safety engineering is more than compliance, legality, reliability, expense, quality, or simply increasing design margins of safety.
To address this gap, a course was developed to raise awareness and provide engineering students with concepts and tools useful to product-safety engineering. This course is structured to help students make sound and rational decisions affecting the safety of product users by applying safety concepts and industrial experience.
Unlike well-established, core engineering classes, product-safety engineering is not determined by objective scientific criteria. Rather, it is ultimately decided by value systems which vary regionally, temporally, and from person-to-person. This requires students to think clearly and express effectively their rationale and decisions to others.
Students are presented with historic product-safety issues, engineering ethics, changing world demographics, intended use, classification of safeguards, safety hierarchies, post-sale responsibilities, Haddon matrices, risk management and analysis, and industry standards. A comprehensive approach to product safety is emphasized through student group projects evaluating the safety of a product of their selection using tools learned in the course. Qualified guest speakers introduce or reinforce course topics.
Course examples are used to show that conditions leading to product-safety issues rarely arise from advanced technologies alone, but instead from failures to properly follow engineering basics such as fastener design, testing programs, development processes, misunderstanding product use, and ignoring failure modes.
This course is taught from the perspective of a fast-paced, innovative design and manufacturing corporation with worldwide distribution. Effective points of influence for product-safety evaluations within the Engineering Design, Development, and Testing Process (EDDTP) are described.
Students learn to think critically and to study beyond today’s necessarily restrictive technical curricula so that they are prepared to take responsible positions in modern corporations and benefit the public. Students are encouraged to innovate when addressing product-safety concerns—a skill that will be necessary to responsibly address the new and unique product-safety challenges of our ever-changing, complex world.
d'Entremont, K. L., & Merryweather, A. S. (2018, June), Board 87 : Integrating Product-Safety Curriculum to Enhance Design and Reinforce Engineering Ethics Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30125
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