June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Electrical and Computer
There are frequent calls for fostering ethics and social responsibility among engineering students. Many of these efforts focus on personal behavior (or microethics) at the exclusion of broader, more structural concerns about the impact of professions, industries, and companies on a variety of stakeholders (Herkert 2001). The corporate context of most engineering work offers both opportunities and challenges when it comes to teaching students to engineer in a socially responsible way. At times, this centrality of corporate endeavors provides a front for students to not value or consider social responsibility, as they perceive the potential for impact within a corporate context to be limited. Unsurprisingly, students anticipate that, upon entering industry, their personal responsibility will be drowned out by corporate interests. In the face of such challenges, corporate social responsibility (CSR) provides a means of simultaneously conditioning our students to incorporate social considerations into their technical work and preparing them for work in a corporate setting.
The engineering education research community has increasingly given attention to CSR, especially in the context of the extractive industries (Smith et al 2017; N. Smith et al. 2018; J. Smith et al 2018). But little work has happened in other engineering disciplines. To our knowledge, this effort is the first time CSR has been explicitly incorporated into the semiconductors classroom. We accomplished this integration using project-based learning (PBL), which provides a constructive avenue for authentic learning about the sociotechnical dimensions of engineering (Heinricher et al. 2013; Vaz and Quinn 2015).
This paper addresses two research questions:
RQ1) How do undergraduate engineers account for CSR in their designs of semiconductor devices? RQ2) How does attention to CSR affect the ways in which students think about the ethical dimensions of their profession?
We begin by presenting an overview of the PBL assignment we designed and implemented in Fall 2018. We also share the rubric written to assess student work on the assignment. In order to achieve the authenticity which is necessary for successful PBL, our assignment was vetted by two experts in the field of CSR, one of which works in the electronics industry. During the course of this work, we also collaborated with the instructor of a course on corporate social responsibility at our institution. Her students gave the semiconductors students feedback on drafts of their PBL final deliverables, lending additional authenticity to the assignment.
We then describe preliminary findings from the implementation of this assignment and new course design. To answer our first research question, we examine two sets of student work: a homework assignment which asked students to rewrite a prior homework problem so that it accounts for some aspect of CSR, and a deliverable for their final project in which they are expected to incorporate CSR into their design of a semiconductor device. We use emergent coding to qualitatively analyze these data. To answer our second research question, we provide and analyze the pre- and post-course survey responses that assessed students’ knowledge and opinions of CSR, including its place in their future careers. We conclude by offering preliminary assessments of potential best practices for integrating CSR into student learning about semiconductors.
Heinricher, A. C., & Quinn, P., & Vaz, R. F., & Rissmiller, K. J. (2013, June), Long-term Impacts of Project-Based Learning in Science and Engineering Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19888
Herkert, J. R. (2001). Future directions in engineering ethics research: Microethics, macroethics and the role of professional societies. Science and Engineering Ethics, 7(3), 403–414. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-001-0062-2
Smith, J. M., McClelland, C. J., & Smith, N. M. (2016). Engineering Students’ Views of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Case Study from Petroleum Engineering. Science and Engineering Ethics, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-016-9859-x
Smith, J. M., & Smith, N. M., & Rulifson, G., & McClelland, C. J., & Battalora, L. A., & Sarver, E. A., & Kaunda , R. B. (2018, June), Student Learning About Engineering and Corporate Social Responsibility: A Comparison Across Engineering and Liberal Arts Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/31007
Smith Nicole M., Smith Jessica M., Battalora Linda A., & Teschner Benjamin A. (2018). Industry–University Partnerships: Engineering Education and Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, 144(3), 04018002. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)EI.1943-5541.0000367
Vaz, R. F., & Quinn, P. (2015, June), Benefits of a Project-Based Curriculum: Engineering Employers’ Perspectives Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23617
Claussen, S. A., & Smith, J. M. (2019, June), Incorporation of Corporate Social Responsibility into Problem-based Learning in a Semiconductor Device Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32959
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