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Experiencing Ethical Engineering Practice

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Research on Engineering Ethics Education and Practice

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

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Paper Authors


Dayoung Kim Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dayoung Kim is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her current research interest centers on engineering ethics and social responsibility, and she is specifically interested in cultural influences on engineers’ moral formation. She earned her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering at Yonsei University, South Korea in 2017.

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Justin L. Hess Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Justin L Hess is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Dr. Hess’s research interests include exploring empathy’s functional role in engineering; advancing the state of the art of engineering ethics instruction; and evaluating learning in the spaces of design, ethics, and sustainability. Justin received his PhD from Purdue University's School of Engineering Education, as well as a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science from Purdue University's School of Civil Engineering. Justin is the 2020 program chair for the ASEE LEES division.

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Nicholas D. Fila Iowa State University

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Nicholas D. Fila is an assistant research professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. His current research explores engineering students' experiences with innovation, empathy across engineering education and engineering design settings, design thinking in the course design process, and novel uses of qualitative research methods in engineering education.

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This study applied Critical Incident Technique (CIT) to identify potential causes of changes in ways of experiencing ethical engineering practice in the health products industry. We use the term change broadly to refer to any shift, refinement, or reaffirmation in one’s way of experiencing. We applied CIT to study 25 interviews with engineering practitioners from health product industry across three industry sectors: orthopedics, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. CIT analysis began with one researcher identifying potentially critical incidents while guided by three criteria. Next, two other researchers reviewed each potential incident, which led to the identification of 81 incidents across the interviews. After review and finalization of incidents, we utilized an inductive and iterative thematic analysis process to identify distinct types of incidents. Critical incidents have been sorted into 25 themes and seven categories which represented potential causes of changes in ways of experiencing engineering ethics in the health products industry. Categories included: (1) Cultural Immersion, (2) Acting Ethically, (3) Ethical Failures, (4) Interpersonal Encounters, (5) Mentorship and Management, (6) Reflection and Association, and (7) Prior Ethics Training. These findings suggest the importance of workplace culture in changing or solidifying individuals’ ways of experiencing ethical practice. These findings can inform post-secondary engineering ethics instruction as well as workplace training.

Kim, D., & Hess, J. L., & Fila, N. D. (2020, June), Experiencing Ethical Engineering Practice Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34632

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