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Incorporating Ethics Discussion Into An Engineering Technology Course

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics: Using Case Studies

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.720.1 - 14.720.18



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Paper Authors

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Timothy Skvarenina Purdue University

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

Session 2533

Incorporating Incorporating Ethics Discussion into an Engineering Technology Course

Timothy L. Skvarenina College of Technology, Purdue University

Abstract TAC-ABET accreditation requires that each program develop program outcomes that embrace ABET criteria 2a to k. Several of those, such as diversity, internationalization, and ethics, are often referred to as the soft skills. Generally students’ exposure to these items is through their elective (or required) courses in the humanities and social sciences. However, ABET accreditation also requires that the achievement of the outcomes be assessed and evaluated. Obtaining direct evidence of achievement of the outcomes by the students can be problematical as the other departments may not be doing assessment. Even if they are, the technology students in a humanities course are probably just a small fraction of the course enrollment, so it may be difficult to obtain information about their performance. While we rely on other departments to provide the bulk of the students’ exposure to the soft skills, we have tried to incorporate some material into the technical curriculum. This allows us to obtain some direct assessment of their attitudes and performance. This paper describes the incorporation of ethics material into a EET electric power course. The students were required to read a case study related to the Enron collapse and to answer questions concerning the ethics of the individuals involved. The answers were brought to class for discussion along with other ethical considerations. Student attitudes toward ethics were surveyed before and after the discussion and results are presented in the paper.

Introduction Like the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC), the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC) of ABET has moved to outcomes-based accreditation of engineering and technology programs, via a criteria set known as TC2K (Technology Criteria 2000). The TC2K criteria require that every accredited program develop a set of program outcomes that insure students demonstrate the achievement of eleven outcomes, the so-called “a” to “k” list. Table 1 shows a listing of the “a” to “k” outcomes for TC2K. With the change from previous accreditation criteria, ABET has gone away from the so-called “bean counting” that required certain numbers of credit hours in various categories, such as mathematics, sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Instead each program must evaluate and assess its curriculum on a continuous basis to show that graduates are demonstrating the required outcomes.

Looking at the ABET required outcomes, it is clear that a number of them are not technical and they are sometimes referred to as “soft skills.” Among these soft skills are ethics (outcome “i”), teamwork (“e”), global perspectives (“j”), diversity (“j”), communications (“g”), and life-long learning ( “h”). The focus of this paper is the ethics requirement.

“Proceedings of the 2009 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2009, American Society for Engineering Education”

Skvarenina, T. (2009, June), Incorporating Ethics Discussion Into An Engineering Technology Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5202

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