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Fostering Moral Autonomy Of Future Engineers Through Engineering Classrooms

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Teaching Ethics

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.759.1 - 12.759.8



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Paper Authors


June Marshall St. Joseph's College

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JUNE MARSHALL received her doctorate from North Carolina State University and is a tenured faculty member at St. Joseph’s College in Maine. Her specialization is learning strategies focusing specifically in cooperative leaning and character education.

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John Marshall University of Southern Maine

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JOHN MARSHALL received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and is the Internship Coordinator for the University of Southern Maine’s Department of Technology. His areas of specialization include Power and Energy Processing, Electronic Control Systems, and Automation.

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

Fostering Moral Autonomy of Future Engineers Through Engineering Classrooms


The goal of engineering ethics instruction according to Fleddermann is to help future engineers develop “the ability to think critically and independently about moral issues and to apply this moral thinking…to professional engineering practice”. 3 In order to develop this independent approach or moral autonomy, engineering programs across the nation should consider the individuals’ emerging personal code of ethics and the role their campus integrity policies could play in fostering the individuals’ emerging personal code of ethics.

This presentation focuses on how to provide a learning continuum where student’s can reflect, mentor each other and provide opportunities to share their emerging moral autonomy. Successful techniques are presented that have been proven to be very useful in providing this required instruction to future professionals.


Character without knowledge is weak and feeble, but knowledge without character is dangerous and a potential menace to society. Character and knowledge together are the twin goals of true education. Boston Latin Grammar School, 17th century1

All engineering curriculums are now required to implement the ABET Code of Ethics as defined in the “Engineering Criteria 2000” 2 document. In implementing this code Gee cautions that, “blind devotion to ethical codes will not address the ethical concerns of the engineering profession. The study of engineering ethics must therefore begin with the study of personal values. The final burden is upon the individual’s conscience and values.” 4 Engineering ethics curriculums should emphasize that all decisions-both professional and personal-are based on one’s values. No one makes decisions of any kind in a moral vacuum; no decision is value-free. Beginning professionals need to be made aware of this reality, as it is germane to developing professional integrity. When individuals have had the opportunity to explore and develop their own moral autonomy, this moral framework then serves as an explicit roadmap for any decision they make.

Fleddermann in Engineering Ethics cites that the goal of engineering ethics can be summed up in the term “moral autonomy”.3 He defines moral autonomy as the ability of the professional to think critically and independently about moral issues and to apply this moral thinking to situations that arise in professional engineering practice.

Marshall, J., & Marshall, J. (2007, June), Fostering Moral Autonomy Of Future Engineers Through Engineering Classrooms Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1672

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