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Teaching Professional Engineering Ethics in Civil and Construction Engineering

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Ethics Instruction in Context: Civil and Construction Engineering and Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

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Paper Authors


Hossein Ataei P.E. Syracuse University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Ataei is an Assistant Professor of Civil & Infrastructure Engineering at Syracuse University in New York. As a registered Professional Engineer both in Canada and in the United States, he has the industry experience in the fields of structural design of civil infrastructure systems; business administration of heavy civil projects and project controls of large-scale civil infrastructure for global Engineering-Procurement and Construction firms. He has also been involved in project management consulting and risk advisory services for construction and infrastructure projects. Prior to joining Syracuse University, Dr. Ataei was teaching simultaneously at the California State University, Long Beach and the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) in Nevada, Ontario and Quebec.
He has a Ph.D., Civil Engineering, from University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California; A Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada as well as a Master of Construction Management (M.C.M.) from University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California, USA.

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Ossama M. Salem University of Cincinnati

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OProf. Ossama (Sam) Salem, Ph.D., P.E., CPC, LEED AP, is the Department Chair and Yabroudi Chair Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, College of Engineering and Computer Science, 151M Link Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-1240; Phone: 1-315-443-3401; Fax: 1-315-443-1243; Email:

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Engineers are important contributors towards the economic prosperity and development of societies as they strive to improve the quality of life for all people. In their relations with the employers and clients, the Professional Engineers shall act in professional manners as faithful agents or trustees for each employer or client. However, in this practice, the engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty, integrity, fairness and impartiality in protecting the public health and safety in delivering professional services. To that end, engineers must perform their professional duties in compliance with the highest principles of ethical conduct. The Civil Engineering graduates, through their careers, will be involved in working in teams or managing projects where decision making will often be an inevitable part of their responsibilities. Therefore, there is an emerging need within the engineering education curricula across the nation for developing ethical decision making frameworks and to place an emphasis on theories and canons of professional ethics and the stakeholder models in conjunction or often beyond the technical teachings and competency development objectives. This paper presents further the three courses in Construction Engineering and Management program at Syracuse University where the professional engineering ethics is pursued through their incorporation into the Civil Engineering curriculum: (1) “CIE 401 – Construction Engineering” – a senior/junior-level course through which students are introduced to the ethical obligations and principles in professional engineering practice and learn about unethical issues particularly within the context of construction engineering profession; (2) “CIE 475 – Civil Engineering Senior Design Project” – a senior-level capstone course where different ethical frameworks and stake-holder model theories in professional decision-making are taught. In addition, the graduating students obtain more in-depth and practical insight of the ethical obligations in engineering practice through the case studies and in-class group discussions. (3) “CIE 400/600 – Construction Regulations and Organizational Management” – an undergraduate/graduate-level elective course in which theories of ethics are presented forth to the class and discussed further in terms of the existing different viewpoints towards ethics in managing an engineering enterprise.

Ataei, H., & Salem, O. M. (2016, June), Teaching Professional Engineering Ethics in Civil and Construction Engineering Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27353

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