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The Development Of A One Credit Ethics Course For Engineering Technology

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Non-Technical Skills in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1273.1 - 11.1273.6



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Paper Authors

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James Brown Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

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Richard Pfile Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

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

The Development of a One Credit Ethics course for Engineering Technology


There is a high demand in engineering and technology for coursework in engineering ethics due to the ABET requirements which stem from society’s changes of culture and core values. ABET “a-k” requirements are driving the necessity for cross-cultural ethical dilemmas to be introduced. Additionally, the global perspective in addressing varying standards for ethics must be understood.

The two goals of this paper will be to describe the course content of a one-credit ethics class and how this course meets the ABET criteria. The course content discussion will include the ideology and methodology behind developing an ethics class that can be applied to most any engineering and technology curriculum. The discussion of the course content will include the syllabus outline, the need for an ethics class and a code of ethics, and how case studies are used. Additionally, there will be a discussion regarding the need for risk and safety awareness, the importance of diversity in the workplace, and the need to be able to identify and avoid sexual harassment in any situation.

The second goal will be to describe how ABET program outcomes (i) and (j) are addressed through this ethics course content.


The course content for a one credit ethics course sheds light on the areas that require the greatest concentration of discussion and effort. A sample course schedule can be seen in the syllabus located in the Appendix. The course begins with the discussion of what ethics is in the narrow scope of the American “baseball, apple pie and mom” mentality and deals with issues that are relatively straightforward. This approach addresses ethics from a fundamental moral standpoint and uses case studies surrounding issues such as Ford Pinto’s exploding gas tank of the late 1970’s and the space shuttle Challenger accident in 1986; both of which were the result of poor corporate ethical choices.

Discussions are also held to identify the necessity for a code of ethics and the role that it plays in the profession. The roles typically include: • Support • Deterrence and Discipline • Public Image • Status Quo • Business Interests

The advantages and disadvantages of such a code are also discussed with the main deterrents to a code of ethics being the possibility of a resulting legalistic approach (“I didn’t break the code so

Brown, J., & Pfile, R. (2006, June), The Development Of A One Credit Ethics Course For Engineering Technology Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1293

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