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Integrating Ethics Into The Freshman Year Engineering Experience

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Paper Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.760.1 - 9.760.7



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Paper Authors

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George Catalano

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

Paper No. 2004-1198

Integrating Ethics into the Freshman Year Engineering Experience Dr. George D. Catalano Department of Mechanical Engineering State University of New York at Binghamton


Various attempts are described in an effort to integrate ethics into the freshman year engineering classes. The attempts include formal lectures on moral reasoning theories, ethics focused videos/DVDs, environmentally focused design projects, design projects that force students to consider societal and global issues. A somewhat different type of design project, Compassion Practicum, is also described. The Compassion Practicum requires students to use an engineering design methodology to identify, design a solution an implement that solution with the charge to the student stated as “do something compassionate for some being other than you.”

Introduction The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the organization which sets forth specific guidelines for attaining engineering program accreditation has written that “Engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have…an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.”1 The actual means for accomplishing these tasks are left to the individual programs, as are the working definitions of phrases such as “professional and ethical responsibility.” In response to the ABET position, according to Shirley2, the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) in a policy statement proposes that, “New engineering graduates need substantial training in recognizing and solving ethical problems.” Furthermore, ASEE has recently established an Engineering Ethics Committee and formed a new group focusing upon ethics in the Educational Research and Methods Division. Shirley2 also challenged all of us in engineering to “avoid engineering hubris” and asked, ”How can we embed ethics in the curriculum in a way that gives students tools that they can really use after graduation? And how do we measure the effectiveness of this training?”

The increased focus upon professional ethics by both ABET and ASEE has resulted in a similar increased emphasis on this topic in engineering programs throughout the nation. Discussion of engineering ethics cases occurs at all levels throughout the curriculum though mainly within the context of freshman introduction to engineering

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Catalano, G. (2004, June), Integrating Ethics Into The Freshman Year Engineering Experience Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12838

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