June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Ethics is a vital component and compass to any profession. In the engineering, the importance of ethics has been stressed in the recent years more than ever. While the state licensure bodies monitor the professional conduct of the engineers, professional engineering bodies like NSPE, ASCE and AAEES insist and expect their members have good moral character and ethical integrity.
This professional requirement calls the engineering educators develop the engineering curriculum enriched with ethics and professionalism. However, given the allowable course credit hours for a four year program and the considerable number of general education courses, engineering prerequisites and engineering courses, it is always challenging to offer an individual course on topics of ethics and professional conduct.
This presentation summarizes a three-year period of efforts and intended future plans to enhance the ethics and professionalism related topics in the curriculum of a relatively new undergraduate program in Environmental Engineering.
This environmental engineering curriculum in its original form focused on introducing professionalism primarily through one-credit hour per semester course, Environmental Professional Seminar. In this course, the guest speakers from industry and academia presented on various topics including technology, management, legislation and research. The students were assessed with the reviews of these talks.
However, the instructors felt more on formal teaching and practice on ethics and professional conduct needed to raise the awareness in accordance with ABET Student Outcome-f and professional body expectations. They also felt it was needed more than one course to achieve this goal.
The actions were taken mainly by reformulating the course, Environmental Professional Seminar, by infusing ethics and professionalism related components into other courses such as Environmental Engineering Senior Capstone Design I and II, and by other venues such as internship and undergraduate research.
In addition to the guest talks, Environmental Professional Seminar had subsequently introduced formal topics on professional engineering societies and their codes of ethics, discussion on case studies on ethics and professional conduct and reviews of contemporary ethical issues in engineering. They were assessed with the reviews, case study analysis and examinations on these topics. In addition, this course was also used in assessing the improvement in the ABET-Student Outcome-f in two consequent cycles.
The courses Environmental Engineering Senior Capstone Design I and II were used to enhance the student experience on professional conduct, especially on managing time sensitive projects. Summer internship provides the students opportunities to learn the ethics and professional conduct from the industry itself. While occasional feedback from students’ industry mentors are useful for assessment, this process is yet to be adapted for every student. Students who do undergraduate research are expected to pass an online training course, Responsible Conduct of Research for Engineers provided by a third party. While this is useful in learning ethics and professional conduct, not all the environmental engineering students do undergraduate research.
In the future, to further enhance the knowledge of ethics and professional conduct, summer internship feedback and the Responsible Conduct of Research for Engineers training will be made mandatory for the environmental students.
Kandiah, R., & Nedunuri, K. K. V., & Zhang, N. (2017, June), Incorporating Ethics and Professionalism into Environmental Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28508
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