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Teaching Engineering Ethics: Why? What? Where? When?
Journal of Engineering Education (1996)
  • Michael Pritchard, Western Michigan University
  • C.E. Harris, West Texas A&M University
  • Michael Rabins
Engineering ethics is professional ethics, as opposed to personal morality. It sets the standards for professional practice, and is only learned in a professional school or in professional practice. It is an essential part of professional education because it helps students deal with issues they will face in professional practice. The best way to teach engineering ethics is by using cases—not just the disaster cases that make the news, but the kinds of cases that an engineer is more likely to encounter. Many cases are available, and there are methods for analyzing them. Engineering ethics can be taught in a free-standing course, but there are strong arguments for introducing ethics in technical courses as well. Engineering is something that engineers do, and what they do has profound effects on others. If the subject of professional ethics is how members of a profession should, or should not, affect others in the course of practicing their profession, then engineering ethics is an essential aspect of engineering itself and education in professional responsibilities should be part of professional education in engineering, just as it is in law and medicine. Probably few engineering educators would disagree with these claims; their implementation in engineering education is another matter. We want to discuss the introduction of engineering ethics into engineering education in terms of four questions: What is engineering ethics? Why should it be emphasized in engineering education? How should it be taught? and When should it appear in the student’s education?
Publication Date
April, 1996
Citation Information
Michael Pritchard, C.E. Harris and Michael Rabins. "Teaching Engineering Ethics: Why? What? Where? When?" Journal of Engineering Education Vol. 85 Iss. 2 (1996) p. 93 - 96
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