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Implementation Of Ethics Education Throughout An Engineering College

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Integrating HSS into the Engineering Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.661.1 - 8.661.10



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Paper Authors

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Robert Wolverton

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Janet Wolverton

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

Session 1161

Implementation of Ethics Education Throughout an Engineering College

Robert H. Wolverton, Janet Bear Wolverton United States Air Force Academy/Oregon Institute of Technology

I . Introduction

The engineering community is rediscovering its roots of professionalism. During the past decade engineering education moved beyond single minded devotion to science and technology by embracing multidisciplinary studies. To complete the transition from engineering scientists back to engineering professionals, education for the next decade is focusing on incorporating ethics and social responsibility into the curriculum. Davis illuminates the nature of professional engineering; “knowing engineering ethics is as much a part of knowing how to engineer as knowing how to calculate stress or design a circuit is. Indeed, insofar as engineering is a profession, knowing how to calculate stress or design a circuit is in part knowing what the profession allows, forbids, or requires.”1

In this paper we look at ethics across the curriculum and implementing engineering ethics education via the case methodology. A brief presentation on the history of engineering education is followed by a discussion of ethics in engineering education. Case methodology is examined including a look at sources for cases and case research. Finally, the two-stage engineering ethics education model used by the United States Air Force Academy is discussed, and a plan for improving ethics across the curriculum is outlined.

II. Engineering Education

Prior to 1950 the emphasis in engineering education was on design according to codes and other standardized methods outlined in handbooks. It was seen as a very practical subject, with little application of mathematics beyond elementary calculus. During the 1950s and 1960s engineering education experienced a true paradigm shift from this applied, practice-oriented focus to a mathematical, academic, ‘engineering science’ focus. 2 Although this model has undergone various revisions during the past 40 years, it is still the predominant pedagogy used in engineering education.

Since the late 1980s there have been a number of studies that suggested changes are needed in engineering education. Many of these studies were conducted in response to the expressed needs of employers who want graduates with stronger skills in communication, teamwork, and critical thinking, in addition to sound technical competence. These studies range from the 1989 National Science Foundation (NSF) group of engineering experts recommendations regarding undergraduate engineering education to the NSF 1996 report on shaping the future in engineering education.2,3 Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Wolverton, R., & Wolverton, J. (2003, June), Implementation Of Ethics Education Throughout An Engineering College Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11518

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: © 2003 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