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Ethics For First Year Engineers: The Struggle To Build A Solid Foundation

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Conference

2005 Annual Conference

Location

Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Social Responsibility & Professionalism

Page Count

9

Page Numbers

10.589.1 - 10.589.9

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/15449

Download Count

471

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Paper Authors

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Thomas DiStefano

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P. Aarne Vesilind

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Richard Kozick

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Thomas Rich

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James Baish

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Xiannong Meng

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Margot Vigeant

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Daniel Cavanagh

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Ethics for First-Year Engineers: The Struggle to Build a Solid Foundation

Margot A.S. Vigeant, James W. Baish, Daniel Cavanagh, Thomas DiStefano, Xiannon Meng, P. Aarne Vesilind, and Ronald D. Ziemian

All: Bucknell University College of Engineering. Departments: Chemical Engineering/ Mechanical Engineering/ Biomedical Engineering/ Civil and Environmental Engineering/ Computer Science/ Civil and Environmental Engineering

Abstract

Exploring Engineering is a first semester course taken by all incoming engineering students at Bucknell University. The instructional objectives for this course include introducing the disciplines taught at Bucknell, cultivating technical problem solving skills which serve those disciplines, fostering teamwork and communication skills, and developing an understanding of the history and societal impact of engineering. Two years ago, the course was redesigned and has been successful at achieving the first three objectives (Vigeant et al 2003, Vigeant et al 2004). This paper documents our approach to achieving the specific outcomes associated with the final objective, dealing with societal responsibility. The course outcomes for societal responsibility are that students should be able to define professional ethics and associated terminology and apply the fundamental canons of engineering ethics to generate and defend appropriate solutions to ethical dilemmas. These outcomes are particularly important because it provides the foundation for each department’s meeting ABET Program Outcome 3.f, which states graduates “must have an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.” Historically, both within this course and others, it has been difficult to convince students not only that engineering ethics is relevant, but that it is teachable. In Exploring Engineering, engineering ethics are presented by a combination of techniques, including descriptive lectures from an ethics expert, case studies, and reading books, culminating in a final paper analyzing an ethical problem. The descriptive lectures are accompanied by a book summarizing the ethical responsibilities of engineers, written specifically for this audience. The case studies are a combination of academic responsibility problems and analysis of engineering disasters or near-disasters. The books each center on historical or fictional accounts involving ethical issues resulting from the creations of engineers. The papers are assigned with the goal that students will synthesize all of this information into a coherent analysis of an ethical dilemma presented by their book. This approach has increased the average student response to the statement “This course has improved my understanding of the ethical and professional responsibilities of engineers” from 3.3 to 4.0 on a five-point scale. While student surveys indicate continued resistance to ethics education, our approach is achieving our outcomes.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

DiStefano, T., & Vesilind, P. A., & Kozick, R., & Rich, T., & Baish, J., & Meng, X., & Vigeant, M., & Cavanagh, D. (2005, June), Ethics For First Year Engineers: The Struggle To Build A Solid Foundation Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. https://peer.asee.org/15449

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