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The Prime Project: Developing Educational Materials To Train Responsible Engineers

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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

10.1317.1 - 10.1317.14



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Paper Authors

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Christy Moore

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Stephanie Bird

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Steven Nichols

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

The PRiME Project: Developing Educational Materials to Train Responsible Engineers O. Christene Moore, Senior Lecturer, Steven P. Nichols, Professor and Associate Vice President for Research The University of Texas at Austin

Stephanie J. Bird, Editor Science and Engineering Ethics


Engineers have a profound impact on society and a resultant responsibility to society. Statements in codes of conduct for engineering professionals support this position. The Code of Ethics for the National Society of Professional Engineers states that “Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.” Specific codes for mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, and chemical engineers (inter alia) clearly express an engineer’s obligation to others. One can divide these obligations as 1) obligations to society, 2) obligations to employer, 3) obligations to clients, and 4) obligations to the profession, which includes obligations to students, trainees, and colleagues. Certainly, these obligations include a requirement for technical abilities (the codes stipulate an obligation to practice only in areas of the engineer’s competence), and most engineering courses in higher education address these areas of technical strength (engineering science, engineering analysis, and engineering synthesis—or design).

Although the need for technical competence or scientific knowledge is fundamental, there is more to being a engineer. An engineer uses tools of analysis and creativity to apply scientific knowledge to social needs. Figure 1 presents a graphical representation of these domains: scientific knowledge, analysis, creativity, and societal need. The intersection is the realm of engineering practice. Not all specific engineering activities require analysis (area “C”); nor do all specific engineering activities involve creativity (area “A”), but the authors argue that all engineering activities inherently have societal impact (area “B”). Proper preparation for the practice of engineering requires not only an understanding of technical strengths but also an understanding of and appreciation for the professional obligations of engineers. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) recognizes the need for educating engineers whose competence includes analytical abilities, creativity, and an awareness of the social impact of engineering, as well as technical skill. Collectively, these qualifications, which should be developed and sustained by professional engineers, can be grouped under the concept of professional responsibility. ABET has expressed the need for educational programs that address those elements of the profession.

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

Moore, C., & Bird, S., & Nichols, S. (2005, June), The Prime Project: Developing Educational Materials To Train Responsible Engineers Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14615

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