Asee peer logo

Ethics in Engineering Education Using Virtual Worlds

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division - Technical Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.547.1 - 23.547.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Jodi Reeves National University

visit author page

Dr. Jodi Reeves is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Engineering at National University in San Diego, CA. She teaches courses in design engineering, engineering management, electric circuits, and other applied engineering courses. She is also the lead faculty for the Data Analytics program in the School of Engineering, Technology, and Media at National University. Prior to academia, she worked for almost ten years as a quality control manager, engineering project manager, and senior scientist responsible for failure analysis of thin film materials. She also managed collaborations with national laboratories, Air Force and Navy research groups, and universities. She invented new quality control tools and supervised interns from local universities and community colleges as part of a $5.0 million technical workforce development initiative funded by New York State. She has published diverse articles on topics ranging from engineering education to high temperature superconductors and has spoken at many national and international conferences. Her doctorate in materials science and engineering are from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and she has four patents issued and one patent pending.

visit author page

author page

Larysa Nadolny Iowa State University

Download Paper |


Ethics in Engineering Education Using Virtual WorldsEthical decision making is key to the development of future engineers in our global and diversesociety. The use of virtual worlds in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)education is an innovative use of technology in the science classroom. This paper will describehow we developed, deployed, and assessed a novel approach to engineering ethics education thatuses virtual worlds to teach ethics in STEM classes.This project, SciEthics Interactive, is a 3-D virtual world where students take on the role ofcompany researcher, collect data, and produce engineering reports. They are also asked topractice their ethical decision-making skills in a safe environment. The goal of the project is toincrease the ethical engagement of students and faculty in STEM by introducing them to virtualworlds, simulate a real-life situation that engineers face in industry, and measure studentresponses to various ethical dilemmas that they are faced with in their simulated role. At ouruniversity we deployed the SciEthics activity in two classes where one class was offered on-line,and the second course was offered on-campus. In the SciEthics virtual world, students could takeone of three roles where the company was researching genetic engineering of salmon. Studentswere asked to take a Defining Issues Test (DIT) before and after their role-playing activity in thevirtual world to see if their ethical responses, as quantified by the DIT, changed as a result oftheir experiences in the virtual world. Additionally we assessed the usefulness of the activityusing student surveys at the end of the course. Overall, most students gave favorable feedback onthe SciEthics activity in this engineering management course. Interesting student feedback wasreceived from the non-traditional students who are typically over age 30 and from militaryveterans. This feedback will be used to further refine and improve the SciEthics virtual worldand expand its use in teaching ethics as part of a STEM curriculum that includes non-traditionalstudents in on-line and on-site classes.

Reeves, J., & Nadolny, L. (2013, June), Ethics in Engineering Education Using Virtual Worlds Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19561

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015