Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
The new ABET EAC accreditation outcomes recognize the importance of educating students about their ethical and professional responsibilities, and how these relate to the impact of engineering in societal and environmental contexts. This research explored how the educators of chemical engineering students viewed the sufficiency of education on ethics and societal impact issues (ESI), as well as their own teaching practices for ESI. Two online surveys gathered feedback from chemical engineering instructors, resulting in 107 respondents representing 76 institutions. A large percentage of the chemical engineering respondents felt that undergraduate education was deficient on ethics (50%) and broader impacts (46%). Graduate student ESI education was perceived to be even weaker; 76% rated ethics education insufficient and 74% rated broader impacts education insufficient. At the median, chemical engineering faculty identified three different types of courses where they believed undergraduate students in their program learned about ESI, most commonly capstone design (72%). Over half of the chemical engineering instructors reported teaching safety, professional practice issues, engineering decisions under uncertainty, environmental protection issues, sustainability, ethical failures, and the societal impacts of technology in their courses. The survey and follow-up interviews with three chemical engineering faculty members provide more specific information on the teaching of ESI in first-year introductory courses, core engineering science courses, and senior capstone design. The ESI teaching and assessment practices used in these different types of chemical engineering courses varied. The survey respondents also reported examples of teaching students about ESI topics in co-curricular settings such as professional societies (e.g. the American Institute of Chemical Engineers), undergraduate research (REU sites), honor societies (e.g. Omega Chi Epsilon), and design competitions. The results provide examples to chemical engineering instructors on integrating ESI into any teaching setting. Micro-insertion of ESI into core engineering courses across the curriculum as well as deeper and more critical exploration in one or two targeted courses may provide a combination that yields appropriate student education on ESI.
Bielefeldt, A. R., & Polmear, M., & Swan, C., & Knight, D., & Canney, N. E. (2018, June), Ethics and Societal Impacts in the Education of Chemical Engineering Undergraduate and Graduate Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30442
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