Asee peer logo

Integrating Ethics in Undergraduate Engineering Economy Courses: An Implementation Case Study and Future Directions

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Economy Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Economy

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


James Burns Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Jim Burns, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Technology Leadership & Innovation
Bio: Jim joined the faculty at Purdue Polytechnic in 2015 after completing a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Western Michigan University, and has more than 10 years industry experience in the manufacturing sector in a variety of roles including process engineering, operations management, and technical sales. His area of expertise centers on applying OR/MS and Simulation techniques to Supply Chain & Operations Management problems, and has also conducted research in the areas of Human Factors and Work Design for evaluating time and motion efficiencies of operations. Jim also holds an undergraduate IE degree and a Six Sigma Greenbelt.

visit author page


Bob E. White P.E. Western Michigan University

visit author page

Bob White has a Ph.D. in Engineering Valuation from Iowa State University (1980). He is currently a professor of Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering & Engineering Management at Western Michigan University. His interests include entrepreneurial engineering, engineering economy, capital budgeting, and operations control. Dr. White is actively involved as a consultant to industry having been involved with numerous companies. Dr. White has over 20 journal publications and more than 50 articles in conference proceedings. Some of Dr. White’s journal publications include The Engineering Economist, Computers and Industrial Engineering, The International Journal of Modeling and Simulation, and The International Journal of Production Research. His professional affiliations include or have included IIE, ASEE, and SME.

visit author page


Azim Houshyar Western Michigan University

visit author page

Azim Houshyar has a PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Florida (1978). He is currently a Professor of Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering & Engineering Management at Western Michigan University. His interests include simulation methodology, reliability engineering, application of operations research to manufacturing processes, and production control.

Since 1987, Dr. Houshyar has been actively involved with consultation to local, national, and international manufacturing corporations. A few examples are: Whirlpool Corp., Humphrey Products, Eaton Corp., Checker Motors Inc., Steelcase, Ford Vehicle Operations, Ford Powertrains, Ford Stamping, Ford Electronics, Ford Framing, Ford Assembly, Verson, Automatic Feed, Pratt & Whitney, Prince Corporation, Herman Millers, and ABB Olofstrom. He has assisted corporations in the United States, Germany, Check Republic, Iran, Portugal, Canada, and Mexico.

From 1995 to 1997, Dr. Houshyar spent all of his spring and summer terms at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) assisting them with the scheduling of the EBR-II nuclear reactor shutdown. Dr. Houshyar developed several mathematical and simulation models that helped plan for the reactor shutdown accordingly.

Dr. Houshyar has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Modelling and Simulation for over 20 years, and is very active in publication of scholarly articles. He has over 30 journal publications and 100 articles in conference proceedings. Some of Dr. Houshyar’s journal publications are in Computer and Industrial Engineering, Computers in Industry, The International Journal of Modelling and Simulation, Applied Ergonomics, The International Journal of Production Research, Industrial Management, Simulation, and The Institute of Industrial Engineering Transactions, to name a few. His professional affiliations include ORSA, TIMS, APICS, SME, and IIE.

Dr. Houshyar can be reach at

visit author page

Download Paper |


The integration of humanities, social sciences, and writing into the engineering disciplines has been shown to improve critical thinking and creativity in students. Undergraduate Engineering Economy courses are well-positioned to facilitate such integration because of their cross-disciplinary nature. One humanities topic that fits particularly well within Engineering Economy courses is ethics, which in many ways is already woven into the content through existing textbooks. Nevertheless, the variety of methods used to deliver Engineering Economy courses (e.g., traditional classroom, large lecture hall, online, hybrid) provides ample opportunities to improve and refine how the topic of ethics is addressed. This paper presents an overview of the implementation of an ethics-based learning module in an undergraduate Engineering Economy course. The module was part of a pilot effort for what is anticipated to be a broader implementation spanning several instructors, locations, and delivery methods. The centerpiece of the learning module is a writing assignment in which students analyze a historical case in which financial considerations appear to have played a role in the violation of ethical codes or norms. In this paper, we outline specific ethics concepts that were brought up during classroom discussions regarding this writing assignment and provide a qualitative assessment of how well students applied ethical considerations in their analyses of the various case studies. The module also includes a survey intended to explore the attitudes of students related to professional ethics, their perception of ethics education in their curriculum, and how they view the relationship of engineering practice and financial decisions. Based on our assessment of this first implementation, we discuss how the module might best be modified to accommodate other delivery formats and present our views on the most appropriate timing of the module in relation to the course calendar. We also explain our views on how ethics should be approached within the context of Engineering Economy courses and what factors might influence the decision to adopt either a micro-insertion or macro-insertion instructional approach. Finally, we outline an approach for future research aimed at assessing the current state of ethics instruction in Engineering Economy courses for the purpose of clarifying which instructional technologies, techniques, and strategies might be most effective.

Burns, J., & White, B. E., & Houshyar, A. (2018, June), Integrating Ethics in Undergraduate Engineering Economy Courses: An Implementation Case Study and Future Directions Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30683

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: © 2018 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