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Plumbers and Professionalism

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Approaches to Teaching Ethics

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1047.1 - 25.1047.9



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Paper Authors


Marilyn A. Dyrud Oregon Institute of Technology

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Marilyn Dyrud is a Full Professor in the Communication Department at Oregon Institute of Technology and regularly teaches classes in business and technical writing, public speaking, rhetoric, and ethics. She is part of the faculty team for the Civil Engineering Department’s integrated senior project. She is active in ASEE as a regular presenter, moderator, and paper reviewer; she has also served as her campus’ representative for 17 years, as Chair of the Pacific Northwest Section, and as section newsletter Editor. She was named an ASEE Fellow in 2008, and two years later received the McGraw Award. Currently, she is on two division boards Engineering Technology and Engineering Ethics, and serves as Zone IV Chair.

In addition to ASEE, Marilyn is active in the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics and the Association for Business Communication, serving on the editorial boards of two journals and editing a teaching section for ABC’s pedagogical journal.

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Plumbers and ProfessionalismAnyone who teaches professional ethics faces an immediate challenge: how to lead students toan understanding of what truly constitutes a professional. The term is very loosely used in ourculture, and most students believe that a professional is someone who holds a job and earns aliving wage. In fact, an episode of Judge Judy nicely encapsulates the popular view: whenhearing a case, she asked the defendant what her job was; commenting on the response that shewas a barista, Judy replied that she didn’t know that that was a profession. Judge Judy wasroundaboutly correct: a barista is not a professional nor is coffee-making a profession.Being a professional involves much more than holding a steady job and doing it well. It’s morethan being punctual and dressing appropriately. Yet when queried “what is a professional,”students will invariably respond by mentioning superficial characteristics, such as dress orreliability, even after reading several articles that detail attributes of a professional.This paper will provide session attendees with some ammunition to combat the notion thatanyone who works is a professional and explain a classroom activity that will lead students to anunderstanding of the term. Specifically, the paper will focus on the following:• Common misconceptions• A brief literature review• A working definition• Classroom small group activity• Student reactions

Dyrud, M. A. (2012, June), Plumbers and Professionalism Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21804

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