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Ethics and Societal Impacts in the Education of Chemical Engineering Undergraduate and Graduate Students

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

ChemE Curriculum: Junior, Senior, and Graduate

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count

16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30442

Download Count

14

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Paper Authors

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Angela R Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (CEAE). She has served as the ABET assessment coordinator in her department since 2008. Professor Bielefeldt's research interests in engineering education include service-learning, sustainable engineering, social responsibility, ethics, and diversity.

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Madeline Polmear University of Colorado, Boulder

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Madeline Polmear is a PhD student in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research interests include ethics education and the societal impacts of engineering and technology.

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Chris Swan Tufts University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5670-8938

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Chris Swan is an associate professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Tufts University. He has additional appointments in the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life and the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach at Tufts. His current engineering education research interests focus on community engagement, service-based projects and examining whether an entrepreneurial mindset can be used to further engineering education innovations. He also does research on the development of reuse strategies for waste materials.

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Daniel Knight University of Colorado, Boulder

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Daniel W. Knight is the Program Assessment and Research Associate at Design Center (DC) Colorado in CU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. He holds a B.A. in psychology from Louisiana State University, an M.S. degree in industrial/organizational psychology and a Ph.D. degree in education, both from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Knight’s research interests are in the areas of retention, program evaluation and teamwork practices in engineering education. His current duties include assessment, team development and education research for DC Colorado's hands-on initiatives.

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Nathan E. Canney

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Dr. Canney's research focuses on engineering education, specifically the development of social responsibility in engineering students. Other areas of interest include ethics, service learning, and sustainability education. Dr. Canney received bachelors degrees in Civil Engineering and Mathematics from Seattle University, a masters in Civil Engineering from Stanford University with an emphasis on structural engineering, and a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder.

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Abstract

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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