July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
NSF Grantees Poster Session
Engineering ethics education often focuses on the actions of individual engineers as well as their relationship with clients, colleagues, and employers (microethics) while paying less attention to the broader impacts of engineering work on society (macroethics). We can further divide both micro and macroethics into two levels each. Individual microethics refers to the actions of individual engineers while professional microethics refers to the relationships between individual professionals and their clients, colleagues, and employers. Professional macroethics refers to the problems facing members of the engineering profession as a group in their relation to society while social macroethics refers to the technological policy decisions at the societal level. Ideally, an ethical engineer would be able to engage with all four types of ethics, and as such, we ask here, “which pillar of ethics do engineering students engage with when faced with ethical issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic?” The COVID-19 pandemic represents an extreme example of an ethical issue that directly affects students’ day-to-day lives. We recognize that students may engage with different pillars of ethics under different scenarios. In this analysis, we aim to provide insights into how we could improve engineering ethics education by identifying with which area(s) of ethics do students engage. Here, we claim that both micro and macroethical thinking are required to address the pandemic and its associated social problems. We distributed a survey to senior engineering students at a Midwestern university (n=171). Preliminary analyses suggested that students engaged with professional macroethics the most while social ethics was rarely mentioned. This is expected as previous studies have shown that many engineering students lack social competencies. The results contribute to further understanding of the area(s) of engineering ethics where students are most proficient. In addition, we propose the possibility of developing a COVID-19 pandemic ethical scenario that could be integrated into curriculum as it taps into various macroethical pillars. The study will contribute to improving the use of the micro-macroethics framework in understanding how students engage with ethics in different scenarios.
Nguyen, L. M., & Poleacovschi, C., & Faust, K. M., & LaPatin, M. L., & Padgett Walsh, K., & Feinstein, S. G., & Rutherford, C. (2021, July), COVID-19 Pandemic Reveals a Major Challenge in Engineering Ethics Education Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36860
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