Asee peer logo

Is Covering Ethics In An Analysis Class Effective?

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Ethics Classes: Creative or Inefficient

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.842.1 - 10.842.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Norma Mattei

Download Paper |

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

Is Covering Ethics in an Analysis Class Effective?

Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E. University of New Orleans


Most engineering educators will agree that engineering ethics is an important component of a complete undergraduate engineering education. There are many approaches as to how to cover ethics in an engineering curriculum. Some programs have elected to cover ethics in a required three credit hour lecture course, sometimes taught by a philosophy department instructor. Many others have a piece-meal method of delivering ethics education to students. In this scenario, the students may have an introductory lecture as part of an intro to engineering class. A one credit hour ethics class may be required or ethics can be touched upon in other classes, where ever it is most appropriate. Finally, ethics is again covered during a senior capstone type of class. Just how effective is this type of delivery? A series of two surveys were given to junior level civil engineering students. The surveys focused on ethical use of computers. Prior to the first survey, all students had taken a one credit hour engineering ethics course or an intro to engineering course. The students then had several weeks of a structural analysis class. Engineering ethics was touched on during several of lectures, with two of those lectures having a computer usage focus. A second survey was given. The results of both surveys were compared. The comparison indicated that this type of delivery is an effective means of covering a specific topic in engineering ethics.


Engineering programs throughput the nation have been grappling with the dilemma of how to best incorporate engineering ethics into their curricula ever since ABET required engineering ethics to become a part of an accredited program. There are many approaches that an engineering program can take in order to implement this ethics requirement. Some engineering departments elect to teach ethics as a one to three credit hour stand alone lecture/discussion course [1]. Others incorporate ethics in short discussions scattered throughout the curricula. Finally, some schools cover ethics within select courses such as an introductory engineering freshman class, a senior capstone class, or other classes as separate stand-alone lectures.

This paper will first discuss the method that the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, CEE, at the University of New Orleans, UNO, has used to effectively provide civil engineering undergraduates with an understanding and knowledge of engineering ethics. The department recently has modified this method of delivering engineering ethics to students based on student feedback. Following this discussion are the results of two surveys of junior civil engineering students taking a required structural analysis class. The first survey was given to the

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society of Engineering Education”

Mattei, N. (2005, June), Is Covering Ethics In An Analysis Class Effective? Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14244

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: © 2005 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