Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Developing and Applying Knowledge and Skills in Ethics and Professional Morality: Evidence-Based Practice in Engineering Education
Engineering ethics is often taught through case studies of disasters occurring as a consequence of lapses in professional judgment, or from a cascade of possible but calculably improbable events (Tacoma Narrows bridge, Missouri hotel mezzanine, NASA Challenger, Deep Water Horizon oil well explosion, etc.). These often provide a forensically-scoped orientation that gives attentive students a view of legal risks and costs of engineering failures and a vicarious don’t-let-this-happen-to-you experience. While there is certainly value in demonstrating how problems have occurred in the past so we re-commit to professional due diligence, there is much more to ethics in engineering than this. For example, the NSPE Code of Ethics puts substantive emphasis on ethics as a proactive process that defends and protects personal and societal needs and legal rights through engineered products and systems — an orientation to professional morality that may actually be prerequisite to the more common legalistic approach to engineering ethics.
In pursuit of evidence-based practice to improve the preparation of undergraduate engineering students, in the Boise State University College of Engineering (BSU-COEN), undergraduate engineering students take a capstone or “Senior Design” course in which they are expected to fulfill major elements of engineering design and development processes specific to their major discipline. In response to expectations set in the NSPE Code of Ethics and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the objectives for this course in the past two years this course has included instruction and guided practice in applied ethics as an embedded feature of engineering design and development. Students gain practice and feedback in a systematic process for applying ethical reasoning and rating the ethicality of their reasoning. As a result, they can demonstrate this addition to their engineering skills by including this process and its outputs in their culminating reports for the class and clients and a college-wide poster fair for all students enrolled in Senior Design. They can also carry this systematic process with them into subsequent vocational and career venues. Focusing on innovations in MBE 481 — Mechanical & Biomedical Engineering Senior Design — this session will report team-based methods based on a fundamental framework of applied ethics, assessment and evaluation data on the affects and effects of this innovation in the BSU-COEN Senior Design sequence. Discussion will include plans to implement similar experiences across all Senior Design courses in the College.
Winiecki, D., & Catlin, L., & Ackler, H. (2020, June), Developing and Applying Knowledge and Skills in Ethics and Professional Morality: An Evidence-based Practice Paper Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34423
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