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Integrating Ethics Into Modeling Courses In Engineering

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.353.1 - 3.353.6



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Murali Krishnamurthi

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

Session 3661

Integrating Ethics into Modeling Courses in Engineering Murali Krishnamurthi Northern Illinois University

1. Models and Modeling From an engineering perspective, a model can be defined as a representation of an object, system or an idea in some form other than itself. Models can be classified using a spectrum ranging from physical (exact) to mathematical (abstract). Physical models are actual “mock ups” of objects such as cars and planes. Scaled models are reduced version of physical objects such as dams and building used generally for the purpose of testing. Analog models use substituted properties of reality. Examples of analog models are gages and blueprints. Simulation models include computer simulation models and role playing games. Computer simulation models useful for analyzing dynamic situations in manufacturing or service industries, and role-playing games are useful for exploring scenarios of problem situations. Information models or data models represent information that will be stored in a database system and knowledge models capture expert knowledge for use in an expert system. Mathematical models are abstract models such as linear programming models or statistical models. In the engineering field, models are generally used for understanding, analyzing, predicting, or solving problems.

Modeling is the process of designing and developing a model. The process often rests in the hands of “modelers” knowledgeable in the process and familiar with the problem domain. The conceptual nature of the modeling process and its dependence on modelers and users give rise to numerous ethical issues. As compared to other engineering techniques, modeling may appear to be directly unrelated to the five fundamentals canons of the Code of Ethics for Engineers [1] due to the conceptual and inexact nature of the modeling process. Models are generally used for decision-making and the conclusions derived from models can have a significant impact on the safety, health, and welfare of the public. Even though a modeler may be knowledgeable in a particular modeling technique, he/she may not be competent in every problem domain and may not be aware of all the techniques that are applicable to solving problems in all problem domains. All modeling projects require reporting and documentation of results in a truthful and objective manner and modelers have to interact with clients or model users on matters related to the design, development, testing, and use of models. Modelers and their employers may be tempted to solicit modeling projects that are not in their areas of competence or offer their services for modeling projects that do not warrant their particular modeling expertise. Therefore, the fundamental canons of the Code of Ethics do directly apply to modeling. The requirement by ABET2000 to include ethics in the engineering curricula and the fact that an entire workshop on Ethics in Modeling [15] was conducted in 1989 signify the importance of this topic.

Engineering students learn in various courses a variety of modeling techniques and their applicability to solving particular problems. Engineering curricula generally focus on the

Krishnamurthi, M. (1998, June), Integrating Ethics Into Modeling Courses In Engineering Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7213

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