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Development of Engineering Ethics Course

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Ethics in different disciplines

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.492.1 - 22.492.16



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Paper Authors


Diana Bairaktarova Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Diana Bairaktorova is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She hold BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria and an M.B.A. from Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota. She has seven years of professional experience, working as a Module Design and MMIC Test Engineer at TLC Precision Wafer Technology in Minneapolis, MN and as an Operations Engineer at Napco International in Hopkins, MN.

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Demetra Evangelou Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Demetra Evangelou is Assistant Professor of Engineering Education in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She has a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and international expertise in early childhood policy and research methods. Her current research focuses on developmental engineering, early education antecedents of engineering thinking, developmental factors in engineering pedagogy, technological literacy and human-artifact interactions. She is a member of Sigma Xi Science Honor Society and in 2009 he was awarded the prestigious NSF CAREER Award.

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A Course in Engineering Ethics Criterion three of ABET's Engineering Criteria 2000 requires engineering programs todemonstrate that their graduates have “an understanding of professional and ethicalresponsibility” (ABET, 2000, pg.32). Engineering ethics is the field which examines and setsstandards for engineering’s’ obligations to the public, their clients, employees and the profession.In the course of practicing engineering, an engineer solves problems. The engineering decisionsare generally guided by the project management variables of cost, schedule and quality; howeverthe engineering decisions are also guided by moral values; concern and respect for others. As of today, even that Criterion three of ABET's Engineering Criteria 2000 requiresengineering programs to demonstrate that their graduates have an understanding of professionaland ethical responsibility the teaching of engineering ethics is still not a high priority in education. “Many challenges remain, most notably the need for US engineeringfaculty to accept greater responsibility for engineering ethics education” (Herkert, 2000).Engineering ethics course is not mandatory and when offered through engineering schools isintegrated through the curriculum in a variety of different forms. Whereas the methods of ethicsinstructions and assessment are often left to the discretion of the instructor, methods ofcurriculum incorporation are mostly established at institutional level. The predominant methodsof curriculum incorporation include: required courses within the discipline, elective coursesoutside the discipline, across-the-curriculum, and the linking of ethics with society (Herkert,2002). However, as Barry (2009) states: “Without clear evidence, the debate over curriculummethods will continue, and the engineering community cannot advance its approach to thisimportant subject”. This paper presents a design of a course in Engineering Ethics to be incorporate in theEngineering curriculum as a course within the program. The course focuses on helping studentsto understand the nature and value of professional and ethical responsibility. The course contentis aligned with appropriate assessments that will offer evidence of students learning andpedagogical approaches are employed to enable students learning. The content for the Engineering Ethics course discussed in this document is driven bythree primary learning goals: students identifying ethical issues, exercising ethical thinking, andresolving ethical dilemmas. These leaning objectives were specifically developed around Fink’sapproach “A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning”. For exploring thecourse context, Wiggins and McTighe’s “Establishing Curricular Properties” framework is used.Formative and summative assessment measures were design to highlight what students havelearned. For exploring Assessment in the course of Engineering Ethics outlined in this paper,James Pellegrino’s Assessment Triangle is used. Finally, the instructional methods used for this course are based on the devotion to createan active and interactive learning environment. The course is presentment through combinationof fundamental theory and case studies. As part of the course, teaching modules for ethics,communication and group work have been developed for well-aligned learning goals with thecontent, the assessments, and the pedagogical principles and practice.

Bairaktarova, D., & Evangelou, D. (2011, June), Development of Engineering Ethics Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17773

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