Essential ethics — embedding ethics into an engineering curriculum
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Ethical decision-making is essential to professionalism in engineering. For that reason, ethics is a required topic in an ABET approved engineering curriculum and it must be a foundational strand that runs throughout the entire curriculum. In this paper the curriculum approach that is under development at the Padnos School of Engineering (PSE) at Grand Valley State University will be described. The design of this program draws heavily from the successful approach used at the service academies — in particular West Point and the United States Naval Academy. As is the case for the service academies, all students are introduced to the “Honor Concept” (which includes an Honor Code) as freshmen. As an element of professionalism the PSE program requires 1500 hours of co-op experience which is normally divided into three semesters of full-time work alternated with academic semesters during the last two years of the program. This offers the faculty an opportunity to teach ethics as a natural aspect of professionalism through the academic requirements for co-op. In addition to required elements throughout the program, the students are offered opportunities to participate in service projects which highlight responsible citizenship. These elements and other parts of the approach will be described.
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Keywordsengineering ethics curriculum honor code professionalism
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