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Ceae Department Ethics Across The Curriculum

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Civil Engineering in the Classroom

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.314.1 - 11.314.14



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Paper Authors

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Stanley Rolfe University of Kansas

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Francis Thomas University of Kansas-Lawrence

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

CEAE Department Ethics Across the Curriculum


Engineering ethics is an extremely important part of the education of all engineers including Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineers. Although personal ethics are the foundation for engineering ethics, personal ethics generally are developed prior to the time students arrive at the University and, for a variety of reasons, are not discussed as part of engineering ethics. Engineering ethics focuses on academic ethics, professional ethics, and international ethics. Engineering ethics are introduced at the freshman level. The focus throughout the freshman, sophomore, and junior years is on the academic ethics from the CEAE Department’s viewpoint, regardless of what the students’ personal ethics may have been prior to entering the University of Kansas. Hopefully, if a student’s personal ethics are not consistent with the professional engineering ethics, the student will modify his/her personal ethics.

During the senior year, professional and international ethics are discussed in all design classes. Because personal ethics are developed from a variety of sources, it seems obvious that professional ethics also must be presented in a variety of design classes so that the students will see that this is a very important aspect of all phases of an engineering career. In each design class, at least one class discussion will be devoted to a case study in which the importance of engineering ethics is emphasized. Thus, students will be exposed to engineering ethics in a variety of design courses by a variety of engineering faculty, most of whom are Professional Engineers. Obviously, this approach could be used within any engineering discipline.

I. Introduction

Ethics has been defined as a body of moral principles or values, dealing with right and wrong and the morality of motives and ends.

Accordingly, it is an issue that individuals must deal with throughout their lives. Growing up, values and moral principles of students were “learned” from parents, teachers, friends, and their own observations of issues and behavior in our society. As students enter an engineering school, they come with a diverse set of ethics obtained from a variety of sources. Thus, we should not expect students to learn engineering ethics as applicable to academic, professional, and international issues from a single source, e.g. one course or one professor, no matter how good the course or professor may be. Students should be exposed to engineering ethics in many classes by many faculty members if they are to internalize engineering ethics as a strong foundation for their entire professional career.

Civil Engineers are the creators of the vast public and private infrastructure systems that enable us to transport people, water, raw materials, manufactured goods, and energy to wherever they are needed. Environmental engineers deal with waste products of all kinds to help maintain

Rolfe, S., & Thomas, F. (2006, June), Ceae Department Ethics Across The Curriculum Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--169

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