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Bringing Ethical Considerations And Contemporary Issues Into An Engineering Economy Course

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Trends in Engineering Economy Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.268.1 - 7.268.9



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Joan Burtner

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Session 1628

Bringing Ethical Considerations and Contemporary Issues into an Engineering Economy Course Joan A. Burtner Mercer University

Abstract With the adoption of EC2000, many engineering faculty believe they are being asked to add more topics to an already full curriculum in order to demonstrate accomplishment of several of the a-k learning outcomes. One solution is to incorporate curricula related to ethical considerations and contemporary, societal issues into existing courses. Through the use of carefully selected case studies, the engineering economy course provides an ideal environment in which students may demonstrate teamwork and communication skills, awareness of ethical standards, and an understanding of the impact of engineering solutions on society. Case studies based on the Challenger disaster and the Ford/Firestone controversy have direct relevance to the industrial engineering curriculum and can be adapted to meet the needs of specific courses such as engineering economy, project management, and quality control.

Introduction Recent revisions in engineering accreditation guidelines have raised awareness of the wide range of learning outcomes that comprise a modern undergraduate engineering education 1. In addition to technical competence in engineering science, students need to develop skills in communication, teamwork, ethics, and project management. 2 At many engineering schools, this awareness has resulted in changes in course content as well as teaching methods. Case studies and open-ended problem assignments are especially effective ways to help students develop engineering-related professional-practice skills such as awareness of the impact of engineering decisions on society, ethical and professional practices, and knowledge of contemporary issues. 3,4,5 Recognition that instruction on the impact of engineering decisions on society is an essential part of the modern engineering curriculum has spread to Europe as well. 6

What does this mean for the engineering economy course of the future? Survey results suggest that the content areas of engineering economy courses across the country are quite diverse.7 Is there room for an ethics case study in the typical engineering economy course? Are engineering economy texts filled with over-simplified examples that have neatly defined alternatives and largely numerical answers? Do faculty need to supplement the texts with detailed case studies? Who would be willing to teach such a case study? Should courses in engineering economy provide more of an engineering decision making focus as suggested by Wells8 and Hartmann9?

There has been little written directly about ethics curricula in engineering economy courses. Of the 48 references cited by Haws10 in his meta-analysis of ethics instruction in the engineering curriculum, only one specifically addressed economics. This Principles of Management and Economics course incorporated a three week module on ethics during the two-semester course

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Burtner, J. (2002, June), Bringing Ethical Considerations And Contemporary Issues Into An Engineering Economy Course Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10424

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