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Engineering Management within an Undergraduate Bachelor's of Engineering (Honours) Programme

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Assessment and Accreditation in Engineering Management

Tagged Divisions

Engineering Management, Systems Engineering, Engineering Economy, and Industrial Engineering

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Page Numbers

25.553.1 - 25.553.10



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Maxwell Reid Auckland University of Technology

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Maxwell Reid lectures in telecommunications engineering, computer network engineering, engineering management, ethics, and sustainability. He has researched and published on ethics and sustainability in engineering education, technology education, the role of a university as a critic and conscience of society, the need for an engineering code of ethics, and the principles of ethical and values-based decision-making in engineering. He has also published on effective teaching methodologies for engineering education in the post-modern period. Reid is the Deputy Head of electrical engineering in the faculty of design and creative technologies at the Auckland University of Technology, Saint Paul Street, Auckland 1010, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1142, New Zealand. Contact at

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Engineering management within an undergraduate Bachelor of Engineering (honours) programmeAbstractThis paper describes the design and implementation of two engineering management papers within a Bachelorof Engineering (BE Hons) undergraduate engineering degree at the Auckland University of Technology in NewZealand to meet the requirements of the new Washington Accord engineering graduate profile, and theaccreditation requirements of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ). The new BEcurriculum was designed to interest and challenge undergraduate engineering students. This conference papergives details of the curriculum content, teaching approach, and timing.The contribution to knowledge of this paper is in the area of curriculum design in the context of management forengineers. This is an emerging field for engineers and this contribution provides an explanation of the approachtaken to the challenge.Engineers and engineering students are accustomed to scientific/factual knowledge and can find it difficult tomake the shift to the social sciences, philosophical and management issues. An engineering lecturer needs tomake this shift in philosophy, and I discuss some of the issues faced in doing this. In documenting this work Ihope to provide an exemplar for discussion that may assist other engineering educators to face the comingchallenge with more confidence. Curriculum Design for Ethics in Undergraduate Engineering EducationKey words; engineering ethics, decision-making, ethics teachers, delivery, assessment. sensitivity to the needs of others, where students are encouraged to explore possible alternativesIntroduction beyond the knowledge and constraints of the actualThis paper describes the design and implementation situation within their level of competence.of an ethics module within an engineering studiespaper at the Auckland University of Technology However, this curriculum serves only as thefor final-year undergraduate engineering students. beginning of a life-long learning process and myThe research focuses on the development of a concern during four cycles of action research wasparticular paper designed to meet the requirements twofold: not only should our undergraduateof the Washington and Sydney Accord engineering engineering students leave the university with angraduate profiles, and thereby to meet the understanding and ability to make value-laden andaccreditation requirements of the Institute of ethical judgement in the world of industry andProfessional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ). commerce, but the ethics curriculum needs to beThere were no national guidelines detailing contentfor undergraduate engineering ethics education andI have been unable to find any other detailed (oreven general) accounts of the development of an accepted and embraced by the students, rather thanethics curriculum for engineering students. I be viewed as a soft subject or a waste of time.concluded that, just as there is no one universalmoral theory, the incorporation of ethics education As I developed the curriculum, I would not say thatinto engineering education varies from one it is rigidly or exclusively postmodern – post-institution to another. Understandably, any system modern being a term with multiple and subjectiveof regimented curriculum would stifle the meanings depending on whether it’s used fortraditional initiative and academic freedom in architecture, art, clothing or the social sciences. Iuniversities. To begin the curriculum development, use the term in relation to education, and although Iliterature was further searched for academic views, expect some information to be memorised, myperceptions and experience in teaching ethics, in view is that the postmodernist aspect of learning iswhich I sought to understand and interpret the the process of shifting the balance between what tofactors that influenced these views which were as learn and how to learn towards the latter,plentiful as they were diverse. Eventually, Idesigned a curriculum with the explicit intention ofinteresting and challenging engineering students,and I tested and revised it over a period of four representing a philosophically theoreticalcycles of action research. movement towards axiology (or value) in education. In this module it was my intention to:In designing the curriculum, I felt that thecurriculum content should contain enough moral 1. Shift the learning process from theand ethical theory for engineering students to quantitative towards the qualitative;understand the concept, while endeavouring to 2. Move from the modernist approach tokeep their focus and attention before discussing the engineering education towards a fluid andethical concepts of good engineering design and flexible means of examining issuespractice. socially, technically and related to good engineering practice;In my view, the overarching academic obligation 3. Provide an approach that does not imposewith an undergraduate engineering degree is to a rigid set of values on the students, butfacilitate informed thinking, to develop an encourages them to understand their ownintellectual independence and foster the ability to values, and appreciate the values of others.reason and think logically about issues that willconfront students during their engineering career. Engineers and engineering students are accustomedTechnical rationality is inevitably entwined and to scientific/factual knowledge and can find itcomplicated by social values and my engineering difficult to make the shift to the social sciences andstudies curriculum design is intended to facilitate to philosophical issues (both with regard to ethicsthe development of moral and ethical integrity with and to education). I have had to make this shift asan educator, and this paper includes the process, studies and discussion points throughout the paper.and the issues faced in doing this. In documenting The content is taught in the following order:this work it may provide an exemplar that enablesothers to face similar challenges with more 1. The engineer and societyconfidence. a. Introduction to the social responsibilities of engineering. b. Technology and society. c. Technology and society – theSyllabus Content relationship. d. Social engineering and societyThe professional requirement development.The engineering graduates in New Zealand are,amongst other requirements, required by the 2. Ethical theoryaccords to: a. Moral theory. 1. Understand and commit to professional b. Moral theory in practice. ethics and responsibilities and norms of c. Ethics engineering practice. d. Ethics in decision-making. 2. Understand the impact of engineering 3. Modern engineering decision-making. solutions in a societal context and 4. Codes of ethics. demonstrate knowledge of and need for 5. Ethics in engineering research. sustainable development [1]. 6. Engineering case-studies.To understand ethical decision-making an engineer An explanation of the entire syllabus content isneeds to consider the effect that engineering beyond the scope of this paper, but I have provideddecisions in practice may have on society. some detail of sections 1-3.Therefore the engineer must understand therelationship between engineering and society. Engineering and SocietyGraduates must comprehend several issues. For engineers to meet societal needs withoutAccording to Chandler, “it is a great mistake to endangering the Earth’s natural systems andjump from the conclusion that the relationship resources they need to understand that technologiesbetween technology and society is not simple to the are a significant area within of the essence of ourconclusion that the use of a particular technology in lives and cultures. Keirl believes that although wea specific context has no consequences at all [2]”. might be largely unaware of this fact, we couldBefore the students can even begin to comprehend hardly define our existence without reference towhat is expected of them, they need to understand them (emphasis in original):technology itself as a lead into the examination of 1. All technologies have contested values.the relationship between engineering and society, No technology is neutral or universallyand the consequences that Chandler alludes to. good.In designing this module had I concluded that 2. All technologies are created by aengineering education should emphasise the manufacturing or enabling processrelevance in the relationship between the resulting from human intention or design.technological, environmental and cultural aspects 3. A technology cannot be in any functionalof engineering practice. Ideally, the students’ sense without a relational human input,“background should also include ethics, although this may well be less the case inphilosophy, social sciences, and the ability to the future.interrelate the basic tenets of these disciplines with 4. Technologies often undergo a functiontechnology [3]”. Meizrow explained that the creep – uses other than those originallyessence of ethics education is to “help adults intended.construe experience in a way in which they will 5. Technologies converge and gain greatermore clearly understand the reasons for their technological power than the sum of theproblems and the options open to them, so that they parts.may assume responsibility for decision-making 6. The speed of emergence of technologies is[4]”. almost faster than the necessary associated ethical considerations and legalSyllabus content framework.Before designing the syllabus content I decided that 7. Technology is commonly viewed asthe paper would involve incremental theory and autonomous or inevitable – that’s the wayprogressive critical analysis by the use of case- things are going or you can’t stop progress. 8. Identity and power relationships are crucial choices are that confront shaped by the technologies with which we technological society [11]. interact [5]. I listed the following points of presentation that IThe introduction of technology has sometimes been saw as a logical progression of explanation anddisastrous on our environment, and the sense that possible discussion for an understanding of thetechnology may be out of control is influenced by relationship between engineering and society:the way in which technical developments can lead 1. What is technology? The students need toto unforeseen side-effects [1]. Consequently, in understand that technology is not justrecent decades engineers and academics have computers and cell phones. It involves,argued that many applications of engineering have over a long period of history, a wide areaethical implications of varying degrees and it is of improvement to our standard of livingimportant that engineers recognise the larger ethical including housing/shelter, tools, weapons,context of their work [6]. clothing, food preservation, communication and transportation.The mounting global concerns for engineering 2. The relationship between technology andstandards and engineering ethics imply the need for society. Technology influences societyguidelines that set and maintain the standards and society influences technologyexpected of engineering practice and cover an development, success and failure. Whatengineer’s obligation to the profession, society, and impact has modern technology had on theclients. Kiepas considers that ethical way we live, work and socialise?considerations should regulate the applications of 3. Technology transfer. Technology does nottechnology [7]. Such changing attitudes and always transfer easily, and without theconcerns of society to problems caused by proper technical support, it cantechnology have created new expectations of the profession and a new role of 4. Is technology neutral? Can scientists andresponsibility with respect to their relationship with engineers absolve themselves from thetechnology. Furthermore, the traditional unwanted effects of technology or is it upcommercial imperative that seeks to shorten the to the users to take responsibility? Who istime between discovery and profit has brought responsible for the adverse ecologicalabout a less idealistic relationship between impact of technology?engineering and society, who pays for the final 5. The social pressures of technology. Canproduct. Unfortunately, in a commercial or we live without technology? Are weindustrial environment, accountability to the dependant on it?management often outweighs the moral convictions 6. Society’s control of technology. Societyof accountability to society and the consumers [8]. has some control over technology,Technology influences society and, in turn, society particularly with the resistance to buying,influences technology. They fuel each other and using or consumption of useless or inferiorBasalla observed that the selecting agents who products.determine whether a technology is accepted by 7. Government control of technology.society may be influenced by economic and Legislation is often passed bymilitary requirements and restraints, as well as by governments to keep some control oversocial and cultural forces [9]. technology such as traffic regulations, waste management, environmental andIn terms of security and control, technology and resource management.society are inexplicably enmeshed to such an extent 8. The equity issue with technology. While itthat Mitcham stated "if power or the ability to act is estimated that a third of the world livesincreases, then so must intelligent control [10]" At in poverty, suffering and humantimes we must make choices and Winner sees this degradation, other parts of the world liveas part of our ethical responsibility in this in areas of luxury and high energyrelationship between technology and society: consumption. 9. The concept of a conscience. This needs Ethical responsibility … involves more to be defined, and how it is likely to affect than leading a decent honest, truthful life them in an engineering career. … and it involves something much more 10. The introduction of the concept of ethics. than making wise choices when such A complete understanding is required. choices suddenly, unexpectedly present 11. Ethics in science and engineering. A themselves. Our moral obligations must complete understanding is required. … include a willingness to engage others 12. To be society’s critic and conscience. To in the difficult work of defining what the stand up and speak out against injustice and unproductive or unsustainable major influence on both family and individual activities in engineering. values [12]. My concern in the design of the ethics curriculum was the area of professional ethics asThese major points concerning technology are a laid down by employers and professional bodies.good discussion point for a class in the introductory My ethics module points out to students that therestages of an ethics course. The statements given may be a significant variety of cultural values inhere may be embellished with many examples, and society, and indeed within a classroom, by whichperhaps receive a class input to interpretations of human conduct is appraised. I decided that itthese points. Such discussions on the relationship would be important in an engineering ethics coursebetween the engineer and society may include the to acknowledge the existence of relativism and thefollowing ethical factors: disparate views on morality, without denying students the opportunity to understand and perhaps 1. The obligation of public safety – What is even learn a little about other people’s realities as an engineers’ responsibility to public their understanding of ethics progressed. safety? Just how safe is your safe design? 2. Risk – Rather than let the buyer beware, Morality what is the engineer’s responsibility to As a general principle, moral principles provide a inform the user of any associated risks? guide to moral behaviour and moral judgement 3. Conflict of interest – What is a conflict of based on values [12]. As straightforward as this interest in engineering? What is wrong definition of morality might seem, moral principles with a conflict of interest? When should a vary from one culture to another, and such conflict of interest be declared? difference between moral interpretations is referred 4. Discrimination – What is an engineer’s to as moral relativity [14]. Without a single set of responsibility on the treatment of women, values on which to base values-based decision- minority and disadvantaged groups in the making, such decision-making is dependent on workforce? human choice and therefore relative to their culture 5. Profitability – How should the engineer’s and values. responsibility to society in providing employees with a decent living standard Ethics and work conditions be related to As a study of morality, ethical theory analyses (and profitability? categorises) values-based decision-making. There 6. Accepting gifts – What are the guidelines are many theories, but I consider the essential for accepting gifts from clients? understanding required is the difference between 7. Whistle Blowing – Should engineers be consequentialism and non-consequentialism in its expected to blow the whistle in the many guises. A study of virtue ethics is also interests of public safety? What are the useful in understanding ethical theory analysis. more reasonable alternatives? Ethics and the law Ethical expectations may often be distinguished from laws. The fact that an action is legallyMoral and ethical theory permissible does not mean that it is ethicallyI deemed it necessary for the students to have an acceptable (for example, slavery and child labour).understanding of values, morality, ethics, etiquette, Also, there can be times when illegality does notdignity, and conscience before they began the necessarily imply unethical behaviour (forvalues-based decision-making process. These example, political opposition to dictatorship).understandings are intended to serve as informal Essentially the difference is that the law isrules as to how society expects an individual to enforceable by punishment whereas ethics andbehave. morality are the judgement by society.Values EtiquetteA value is a subjective principle of considering Etiquette is what is considered good mannered andsomething to be good or bad, worthwhile or not, polite [15]. Engineering students need to be madedesirable or undesirable [12] and behaviour by aware of the difference between etiquette and ethicsindividuals, groups of professionals, or nations, all – there are expectations of their behaviour andreflect the values that they hold. A person’s values manner as employees in the workplace just as thereare developed from a young age, where parents are are in their private, family and social lives.normally the most dominant influence on a child’supbringing. Parental control is not always Dignityexclusive; values are also influenced by guardians, Dignity refers to the fundamental worth of ateachers, priests, and peers [13]. Centralised person, of animals or of nature, and to treatauthority systems such as the church may be a someone with dignity is to treat them with respectand without embarrassment, respecting their right categories are likely to be encountered in the coursenot to be interfered with, or not to be harmed or of an engineering career.humiliated unnecessarily. In working relationshipspeople have the fundamental right to be treated Decision-making outcomes with certainty orwith dignity, although in many societies that uncertaintyfundamental right is forfeited when one breaks the Before we begin to look at values-based decision-law [16]. making in engineering, it is important to speculate possible decision-making outcomes in terms ofConscience certainty and uncertainty [19]. Taking this further,Conscience is associated with the feelings of guilt one could argue generally that one of the followingone may have in being associated with something four types of outcome will result from a decision:that is considered to be of low morality. Such guiltcan result from decision-making outside the frame 1. Decisions with certainty – there is onlyof society’s values [15]. one possible outcome. 2. Decisions with risk – where it is necessaryThe engineering codes of ethics are not clear about to assess all the possible outcomes andconscience in terms of one’s religious or moral assess the probability of each outcome.beliefs about conscience issues, but engineers may 3. Decisions with uncertainty – theat times have to consider their conscience, and this possibilities of each outcome may becan be largely influenced by either their core values known, but the probability for each is notor their professional code of behaviour. known. 4. Decisions under ignorance – there is no predictability of an outcome.Engineering decision-making On consideration, very few engineering decisions based on a moral solution have only one possible Ethical Decision-making outcome (type 1), although it is very good if we canThere are environmental, cultural and social be certain. Engineers should rarely if ever makeaspects of any engineering decision which an decisions in which the outcome is unpredictableengineer has a responsibility to consider. The wise (type 4). If the decision is uncertain (type 3) thenapplication of engineering technologists referred to the probability and risks must be assessed. Whenby van der Vorst [17] may be termed values-based making a decision in which risk is involved (typedecision-making. When a decision is to be made 2), quite often the risk can be minimised throughby an individual, or by a group or organisation, the good engineering and the main ethical concern heredecision-making is influenced by numerous factors. is to determine an acceptable level of risk. GoodSome factors will be clear, as defined by engineering decision-making with consideration ofregulation, law or company policy. Other factors safety should always guide the process [20].that influence the decision may be less clearlydefined, and the decision-making process can very Decision-making processoften be influenced by the implicit core values that Engineering undergraduates learn to apply theirsociety has acquired, including the expectations of technical skills with higher-order intellectualmanner and customary rule systems. problems where decision-making involves the application of engineering principles through theThe most common decisions in one’s private life manufacturing or enabling process in the design ofrequire individuals to make decisions on the basis systems and the selection of suitable engineeringof taken-as-shared values, conscience and etiquette. components. However, engineers are also calledAt another level there are times when the choices upon to apply their skills in a wide variety of legal,made, whether by an individual or a nation, reflect institutional, and environmental settings, whichthe core values of those who make the decisions may include technology-driven social change.[8]. However, simply learning a rule does not Their wisdom in engineering decision-makingguarantee that an engineer will be able to use it to should be characterised by a sound knowledge andsolve a problem and they need to understand the application of regulations and public safety [20].IPENZ Code of Ethics, which gives them a In addition, the following steps in the decision-guideline to the values of the profession. There is making process should help identify the bestno grand theory that will guide all decision-making, solution to a problem:and before solving a problem it is important tounderstand what type of issue is being dealt with. 1. Recognise the problem; define theRabins, Harris, Pritchard, & Lowery divide a problem in terms of goals, scope andcontentious issue into factual claims, disputed meaning.conceptual issues, and ethical issues [18]. All three 2. Set objectives; set the objectives for the desired output. 3. Research; gather as much information that point of view by asking yourself the following is possible that is relevant, accurate, questions: complete, and timely. 4. Identify and evaluate all alternative 1. Harm test: Do the benefits outweigh the solutions; in terms of feasibility, harms? Short term? Long term? acceptability, risk, benefits, possible 2. Reversibility test: Would I think this negative outcomes, environment, short choice was good if I traded places? term consequences, long term 3. Colleague test: What would professional consequences, moral principles, honesty, colleagues say? equality, dignity and fairness to others. 4. Legality test: Would this choice violate a 5. Evaluate the options; identify the law or a policy of my employer? positively and negatively effected parties. 5. Publicity test: How would this choice look 6. Select the best option; select from on the front page of the newspaper? engineering, environmental, sustainable 6. Common practice test: What if everyone and economic perspectives. behaved this way? 7. Implement the option. 7. Wise relative test: What would my wise 8. Evaluate the results [21]. old Aunt or Uncle say? [23].A self-test Delivery OptionsOnce a values-based decision has been made, an My review revealed two differences in the optionsethical decision may be checked using the Kallman of timing and delivery categorised as:and Grillo self-test: Ask yourself the following questions on the 1. Stand-alone (a self-contained paper); this ethics and professionalism of your decision: stand-alone format can be either a block course of a few consecutive days or an 1. List the stakeholders who are those with incremental format of a weekly session of something to lose or win in this case. three hours per week over a semester, 2. Should someone have done or not done 2. Across-the-board (sometimes referred to something earlier? as across-the-curriculum); the across-the- 3. Who benefits here? Who is harmed here? curriculum format is spread through many There could be multiple answers. different papers. 4. Apply three important ethical tests to your decision, and evaluate a decision from the Stand-alone format perspective of each of these tests. Proponents of the stand-alone format believe that (a). Use the Golden Rule Test which asks the paper should comprise a separate course or whether you would be willing to accept module of tuition in engineering ethics. Zandvoort, the consequence of your action if you De Poel & Brumsen consider the advantages of the were the one affected. self-contained stand-alone format to be: (b). Use the Rights Test and ask yourself 1. The students are intensively confronted whether anyone’s rights, such as the right with ethical issues for a substantial period to free and informed consent and the right of time. to equal treatment are being violated by 2. It is possible to teach a more substantial this course of action. amount of the relevant skills and in-depth (c). The Utilitarian Test asks whether a knowledge. course of action produces the greatest 3. The paper attracts better-qualified teachers overall good for the greatest number of or visiting lecturers [24]. people, regardless of what it does to a few individuals. Zandvoort et al. do however perceive a 5. Ask yourself how this situation could be disadvantage of the stand-alone format, noting that prevented from occurring again [22]. “it may foster the notion already held by some students that ethics is a soft subject [24]”.An alternative testThis test may be used to examine the impact a Across-the-board-formatdecision may have and was designed to simplify Other educators are proponents of the across-the-the ethical decision-making process for the board format where ethics is progressivelystudents. In each of these questions examples may introduced throughout the degree programme, andbe given, which usually facilitates class discussion: sometimes deliberately immersed into other subjects. Zandvoort et al. suggest the advantage of Test your impending decision from society’s the across-the-curriculum approach is that ethicalconsiderations can be brought in at any place in the 3. They permit gradual learning (or dripengineering curriculum where it seems relevant as feeding) of students over an extendedan integral part of engineering [24]. period [27]. 4. They permit cross-referencing to otherBuckeridge criticised the across-the-board papers running concurrently. (p. 2)curriculum delivery approach as a drip-feed system[25]. With the introduction of ethical theory in the Although Buckeridge and Grünwald maintainedfirst year Buckeridge perceived the inability of that the first of the above two advantages isstudents to appreciate what ethics is about, and thus primarily administrative, permitting a homogenouswithout a reasonably comprehensive understanding semester of uniform class/workshop duration inof engineering practice, their ability to which human and physical resource is maximised,contextualise ethical issues in engineering was they conceded nevertheless that a structuredweak. I sympathised with this viewpoint but, as a programme of learning over an extended period ofnovice in the subject. The across-the-board time has both advantages and disadvantages:concept had been adopted by the Institute ofEngineers of Australia (IEAUS) in its approach to 1. It provides the opportunity for the deliverycompetency certification of chartered professional of a more sedate (or less threatening)engineers at the time [26], and was used in a progression of ideas, many of which maynumber of Australian universities. be unfamiliar to the students. 2. Regular feedback is possible.I found that to introduce an ethics curriculum 3. Students can afford to miss a class withoutacross-the-board would necessitate the co-operation severe consequences.of other lecturers. At AUT many of my colleagues 4. The learning environment is likely to behad little interest in ethics and I encountered their more impersonal, especially in largescepticism. As I proceeded I quickly discovered lecture theatres.that changing to an across-the-board style might 5. This assessment and outcomes of this typehave been counterproductive to my goals of of structure will naturally drift towards acurriculum design. I formed the opinion that one marks-oriented pedagogic paradigm.dedicated lecturer was a compelling justification 6. The relevance of the material can befor the stand-alone format and that there was demonstrated in other papers by cross-comparatively little to be gained by asking referencing between papers [27].disinterested people to move outside their comfortzone. This preference at AUT for the stand-alone As I reflect in 2010, all of their points have somepaper was based on the convenience of validity, but, notwithstanding these observations, Iadministration at the time in the School of chose the weekly format over one semester.Engineering and it appeared to offer an expedientpath to proceed because I would be designing thecurriculum myself without the restraints of Teaching Methodcollective input. My immediate challenge was the implementation of a new syllabus and I had to find a teachingTiming of the module approach to present the subject theory in a way thatAnother concern was related to the timing of the was stimulating and relevant to engineering. Imodule. If I was going to conduct a stand-alone would categorise myself as a positivist teacher,module, when was the most appropriate time? My making extensive use of reflective teaching where Iquandary at this point was how to deliver it. used my personal and professional knowledge and experience for reflective case-studies. I assumedTotal immersion or full-semester format? that my use of case-studies as a means to reflectiveThe stand-alone delivery format can be either practice would not change; what did evolve weretaught as a block, or spread out over the semester the interpretations placed on such reflections, asand it was here that I had a choice. Buckeridge and when teaching ethics, there is seldom only oneGrünwald conceded that in their experience most valid or true interpretation as there might be in aengineering studies papers are run over a full mathematical problem. I adopted a view of humansemester of about 14 weeks, and they weigh the knowledge that was very different from logicaladvantages of the full-semester format against their positivism with the adoption of a new (for mefull-immersion format. They see full-semester personally) teaching approach where knowledge isformats in these terms: not limited to statements capable of empirical 1. They fit well in the existing timetable verification. My style of teaching changed as I system. adapted to a more subjective approach to teaching 2. They conform to the general structure of qualitative information. other papers (and as such are familiar to students).I was used to teaching a curriculum that was clearly transferred from one situation to another. Thedefined in terms of what the students were to condition for the transfer of knowledge requires theunderstand, most of which could be justified with knowledge to be conceptual (know how) andempirical evidence. However, Habermas cautions procedural (know why), with the social aspectsteachers against such a teaching approach in being imbedded into both. Essentially, I needed asubjective areas of education such as ethics [28]. theoretical learning structure for the learning ofTaking this idea on board I concluded that I would ethics in engineering that encouraged the studentsneed a teaching approach which does not to think. Resnick describes this process ofcommunicate knowledge in a hard and positivist constructivism as one that “forces students of manyform, but rather in a softer and subjective manner. social phenomena to treat social processes asI imagined myself taking the facilitator's role in cognition, leading them to the ways in whichethical education, fostering critical awareness and people jointly construct knowledge under particulardeveloping students' capacity to “examine an conditions of social purpose and interaction [32]”.interpretation – especially one of their own – anddevelop alternatives to it [29]". Simplistically, the student requires an engagement in understanding to meet the desired outcome of theHowever, ethical instruction runs the risk of being learning. In this respect it is desirable that thesuperficial if the engagement is emotional rather emphasis in learning is not simply on absorption ofthan intellectual. There is a difference and information, but also involves having to useGorovitz makes the point that “anyone can conduct thinking skills to construct knowledge [31].a meandering discussion of some ethical dilemmaor other or can ruminate aloud about ethical My experience in engineering education steered meconflicts faced and conquered [30]". Gorovitz towards the critical analysis of case-studies as awarns the novice that in this case "the subject is in means to problem-solving practice.danger of being reduced to a glorified bull sessionof opinion swapping, to etiquette, to good advice or I decided that whatever depth of theory I went into,merely a fig leaf for conferring respectability [30]”. my objective would be understanding, rather than rote learning. Here I reviewed Morgan’s advice onAt the other extreme, I did not want an engineering improving students’ learning, involving thecurriculum that was totally referent-centred “surface approach and the deep approach [33]”.knowledge (knowledge organised around facts). Morgan describes the surface approach (referred toMy experience of referent-centred learning by some educators as a shallow approach) as aninvolved the taking of information from the teacher intention to treat the curriculum as an externaland books and storing it in memory, to be faithfully imposition, where the students simply complete thereproduced at the right moment, after which it can learning tasks required to meet the demands ofbe forgotten just as quickly as it was learned. Such assessment, which may include memorisinga hard-line approach would, in my view, be information and procedures. Morgan challengesinadequate for ethical decision-making in situations teachers and curriculum designers to improveof uncertainty and I wanted to avoid a student learning with a deep approach, whichcompartmentalised teaching approach of separate implies an intention to understand rather thanareas of inert knowledge, from which the students memorise.would essentially learn a collection of facts. As I was to move from the objective to theMy intention was to implement ethical instruction subjective teaching style, this concept of students’using problem-centred knowledge where the knowledge construction situated within their ownknowledge was complemented by the practice. I social meanings. What would be important wouldsaw the advantages being that the students would be to position knowledge within this social contextrelate the theoretical information to practice and where students could examine and develop anthat they would interact with other people. Further understanding of why past decisions were made.reading revealed that such a learning process,which involves extended practical attention, is The decisions I made with the assessmentmore likely to be remembered when a problem is procedures were made pragmatically to achieve anencountered later [31 – 32]. assessment procedure that was aligned with the module objectives.Problem-solving activities need to be implementedwith careful planning to insure intended student I achieved in my view a balanced assessmentoutcomes. Industry and commerce require the use procedure suitable for large classes throughof problem-solving skills on a daily basis [8]. The formative assessment and feedback through essaysocial construction theory of knowledge argues that assignments and formative feedback by the in-classknowledge areas should be linked to each other in a case-studies. Finally, I summatively assessedstructured manner so that knowledge can beeverybody by examining the major case-studies as public may judge their profession and theirpart of the final examination. institution by their utterances [34]”. This of course does not mean that as tertiary educators, university staff should be value free. In fact a teacher’sConclusion values will often influence what is selected for study.When I was given the responsibility for this modulein engineering ethics, I began this task as an As university lecturers we have a significant powerengineering lecturer interested in teaching ethics. relationship with our students, and in the mostA significant amount of study and research was simplistic of terms, we have the power to pass orrequired to develop my competence to teach this fail. An ethics lecturer has the power to influencepaper – I had to acquire new knowledge, including students and in my opinion, the only culture Ian understanding of the fundamentals of moral and should promote is that of professional engineersethical theory. and responsible citizens. In this respect I can contribute to providing students with anHence, one observation from my experience is that undergraduate education that has a strong emphasisan ethics teacher requires development time, time on future-relevant behaviour skills in industry, butto manage their curriculum and teaching strategies, also with the ability and incentive to understandtime to implement changes and the time reflect conflicts in their own value systems. As a sidetheir success (or shortcomings) through student effect, it is possible that this module may give someoutcomes. students the opportunity to privately reflect their own personal lives as well as their intendedNaturally teachers have their own distinctive ways vocation and how he or she must fit into thatwhich predisposes them to think and teach in society in a professional manner. In terms ofparticular styles. While teachers are entitled to this deontological ethics, and utilitarianism, the keyacademic freedom in the classroom this research questions they might privately consider are: Whathas revealed experienced academics who advise should I do? How should I behave? What sort ofthat it could be construed by some as unethical for person should I be? But as potential professionals,a teacher to impose their personal moral or cultural they need to understand that while ethicalvalues onto the students. There are of course engineering behaviour can establish trust andschools and universities in many countries with a respect from the society they serve, conversely,direct association to specific religions or cultures; unethical behaviour can lead to organisationalhowever, AUT does not have such an affiliation, dysfunction, public outrage and personal moraland although I have my own personal values and dilemmas.religion, my teaching is as neutral as I can make itin that respect. Even so, in some respects to be On reflection, my present view of an engineeringneutral on a moral issue can be construed as having ethics teacher is essentially someone who has theanother opinion. The obvious dilemma here is that enthusiasm to teach ethics with the willingness toeven a neutral educator who takes no side in an research and learn about ethics that pertains toissue, may represent a stand of retaining the status engineering-specific issues with a credible level ofquo, which may involve steering the issue in some understanding for the students.direction. Indoctrination is a risk in the process ofteaching and it is important to avoid this. During I conclude that the necessary requirements for anclassroom discussions and case-studies it is engineering ethics teacher are the ability to:important to foster academic freedom and allowstudents to express opinions, construct their 1. Adapt to a teaching style where practicalknowledge and reach their own conclusions. experiences are brought into the learning environment.However, we as educators should be cautious with 2. Shift the assessment focus of examinationsuch an open and neutral approach. There are preparation from the quantitative aspect ofethical implications in any efforts to assist students remembering facts, systems andin critical reflection and interpretations of meaning procedures, to a qualitative concept ofwhere the outcome could be a collective social or conceptual understanding and explanation.industrial action. Although the ideal of academic 3. Take the facilitator's role in ethicalfreedom is to promote the free expression of ideas, education, as one of fostering in ouruniversity educators should be careful in the graduates critical awareness with theeducation of ethics to be ethical themselves. While perspectives, responsibility and freedom toteachers are free to express their own opinion as critically reflect and challengecitizens in the community, “their special position in assumptions and premises, and thethe community as a teacher imposes special development of the students' capacity toobligations, and they should remember that the examine an interpretation and develop philosophy of technology: Philosophy and alternatives to it. technology 7, (pp. 53-64). Boston, MA:4. Teach the subject without the Kluwer (1990). indoctrination of one’s own opinion or 12. Preston, N., Understanding ethics. values, and without imposing rigidity in Annadale, Australia: The Federation Press procedures. (1996). 13. Frazer, M. J., & Kornhauser, K., Introduction. In M. J. Frazer & K.5. References Kornhauser (Eds.), Ethics and social responsibility in science education (Part 2,1. International Engineering meetings, pp. 133-139). Oxford, England: Permagon Graduate competency profiles. Hong Press (1986). Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Engineers 14. Seedhouse, D., Values-based decision- (2005). making: The caring for professions.2. Chandler, D., Technological or media Chichester, England: Wiley (2005). determinism. Retrieved 17th March, 2000, 15. Pojman, L. P. Environmental ethics (2nd from http:// ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson TechorMediaDeterminism.pdf+ (1998). Technological+or+media+determinism&h 16. Reid, M. S., The social responsibilities of l=en&gl=nz(1995). engineering. Auckland, New Zealand:3. Braukman, J. R., & Pedras, M. J., Auckland University of Technology Preparing students for living in a (2006). technological society. Journal of 17. van der Vorst, R., Engineering, ethics and Technology Education, 1(2), 2-11 (1990). professionalism. European Journal of4. Meizrow, J., Fostering critical reflection in Engineering Education, 23(2), 171-179 adulthood: A guide to transformative and (1998). emancipatory learning. San Francisco, 18. Rabins, M. J., Harris, E., Pritchard, M. S., CA: Jossey-Bass (1990). & Lowery, L. L., Introducing ethics case-5. Keirl, S., Ethics and technology education: studies into required undergraduate Another ac-prac or an education for engineering courses: Basic concepts and humanity? In G. Martin & H. Middleton methods in ethics. Retrieved 19th May, (Eds.), Initiatives in technology education: 2006, from Comparative perspectives (pp. 148-161). (2005). Brisbane, Australia: Griffith University 19. Forsberg, E., & Kaiser, M., Ethical (2003). decision-making in strategy - Final report6. Davis, M., Teaching ethics across the ...

Reid, M. (2012, June), Engineering Management within an Undergraduate Bachelor's of Engineering (Honours) Programme Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--23331

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