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Integration of Ethics-Focused Modules into the Steps of the Engineering Design Process

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Ethics Integration in Engineering Design

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count

35

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37367

Download Count

8

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Paper Authors

biography

Jessica R. Edelson Duke University

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Jessica is senior Robertson Scholar at Duke University pursuing a double major in Political Science and Visual and Media Studies, with a certificate in Information Science.

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Micalyn Struble Duke University

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Micalyn is a third-year student at Duke University, majoring in Public Policy and minoring in Computer Science. She views this project as a chance to ingrain ethical thinking into engineering, in the hopes that many ethical dilemmas of the past can be confidently handled in the future.

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biography

Reya Magan Duke University

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Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science student at Duke University

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biography

Ann Saterbak Duke University

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Ann Saterbak is Professor of the Practice in the Biomedical Department and Director of First-Year Engineering at Duke University. Saterbak is the lead author of the textbook, Bioengineering Fundamentals. Saterbak’s outstanding teaching was recognized through university-wide and departmental teaching awards. In 2013, Saterbak received the ASEE Biomedical Engineering Division Theo C. Pilkington Outstanding Educator Award. For her contribution to education within biomedical engineering, she was elected Fellow in the Biomedical Engineering Society and the American Society of Engineering Education. She is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Biomedical Engineering Education.

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Abstract

Despite a consensus that engineering students need exposure to ethical decision-making, the degree to which ethics are incorporated into undergraduate curricula remains varied. At Duke University, the engineering departments use a patchwork approach to ethics education, although all students are exposed to ethics in the capstone design course. A new, required first-year design course (EGR 101) for all incoming engineering students presented an opportunity to strengthen students’ ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities and to make informed judgments. EGR 101 is a project-based design course in which student teams are matched with clients in the community to solve an identified problem. Through the work of creating the solutions to these problems, the teams learn about and apply the engineering design process. The design process consists of seven steps: clarifying the team assignment, understanding the problem, defining design criteria, brainstorming solutions, evaluating solutions, prototyping, and testing. Steps in the design process are taught using a flipped classroom method, in which students watch videos detailing the process prior to class. Then, in class, students complete short in-class activities before applying that knowledge to their team’s design challenge.

To incorporate engineering ethics into EGR 101, a joint faculty and student team with expertise in engineering and ethics developed the described materials. After establishing learning outcomes, the team targeted different steps of the engineering design process to situate ethical discussions. The team utilized the very same design process to develop course modules that would achieve these learning outcomes. Ultimately, the team created four engineering ethics modules that include videos and short in-class activities. Implemented in Fall 2020, the modules correspond with and are embedded within the four steps of the engineering design process:

1. Systems Mapping. Students learn to identify the people, societal issues, and materials that are integral to the assigned team project’s problem space. Through drawing a systems map, students analyze how their project and its intended goal connect to the world around them. 2. Pairwise Comparison Chart Activity. Students assume the role of various stakeholders (those invested in the project in some way) to complete a pairwise comparison chart, thus simulating how different stakeholders make trade-offs when determining important design criteria. 3. Testing Game Show. As students test their own products, the entire class is brought together to compete in an interactive, game-show style activity about the ethics of product testing. Then, students design testing plans for their project that are both effective and consider related ethical questions. 4. Game of Life Cycle. Students engage in a Life Cycle carnival game in which teams rotate through five stations of activities. These stations have been designed to teach and to encourage thoughtful discussions about the ethical and environmental implications of the materials that students used in their design solution.

Achievement of these goals was measured using an IRB-approved pre/post study, which recognized that each student would enter the course at a different point of ethical awareness. The assessment questionnaire was based on a combination of the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ) [1] and a novel instrument focused on the intersection of technology and ethics developed by faculty at Duke University. With data collected in Fall 2020, we analyzed student survey data and found few significant results. In summary, the suite of developed modules that are embedded into the first-year engineering design course should lead to the development of an ethical mindset at the outset of students’ engineering education.

Edelson, J. R., & Struble, M., & Magan, R., & Saterbak, A. (2021, July), Integration of Ethics-Focused Modules into the Steps of the Engineering Design Process Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37367

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