NAE Report Showcases Exemplary Engineering Ethics Programs


Thu, February 18, 2016

Washington, DC, February 18, 2016 —

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Center for Engineering Ethics and Society (CEES) has released Infusing Ethics into the Development of Engineers, showcasing 25 engineering programs at colleges and universities across the nation that are exemplary in their approach to infusing ethics into the development of engineering students. The report serves as a resource for institutions and educators to strengthen and expand their ethics programs and thus improve the capabilities of practicing and future engineers.

“Ethical standards in engineering, from practice to solutions, are critical to trust in the profession,” said NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr. “Consequently, these standards are even more important when engineering crosses our nation’s borders and engages with engineers from other cultures to advance the well-being of our world.”

The programs described in the report all clearly connect ethics to technical engineering curriculum and conduct assessments of their programs, both of which were criteria for submissions. Additionally, the committee noted significant characteristics such as interactive learning, study of difficult problems that lack clear right and wrong answers, involvement of practicing engineers and alumni, and connection with real-world experiences through internship. The selected programs encompass a range of program types—undergraduate and graduate courses, multiyear programs, extracurricular experiences—and institutions, illustrating the diversity of effective approaches to infusing ethics in engineering education. Following are the 25 exemplars selected by the committee:


Name of Program

California Polytechnic State University

Ethics as Philosophical History for Engineers

Colorado School of Mines

Corporate Social Responsibility course

Colorado School of Mines

Nature and Human Values course

Colorado School of Mines

Enacting Macroethics: Making Social Justice Visible in Engineering Ethics

Georgia Institute of Technology

Problem-Based Learning in a Professional Ethics Course for Undergraduate Engineering Students

Indiana School of Medicine–South Bend and University of Notre Dame

Ethics When Biocomplexity Meets Human Complexity (Role-Play Workshop) and Nanosilver Linings Case

Kansas State University

Responsibility of Engineering: Codes and Professionalism (3-hour university course)

Lafayette College and Rutgers University

Engineering a Catastrophe: Ethics for First-Year STEM

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ethics and Engineering for Safety

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Michigan Technological University

Phenomenological Approach to Engineering Ethics Pedagogy

Northeastern University

Case Studies for Engineering Ethics Across the Engineering Life Cycle

Northeastern University

Multiyear Engineering Ethics Case Study Approach

Penn State University

Creating a Community of Ethics Educators in Engineering

Purdue University

PRIME Ethics: Purdue’s Reflective & Interactive Modules for Engineering Ethics

Stanford University

Global Engineers’ Education Course

Texas State University

NanoTRA: Texas Regional Alliance to Foster Nanotechnology Environment, Health, and Safety Awareness in Tomorrow’s Engineering and Technology Leaders

The University of Virginia

The University of Virginia SEAS Senior Thesis: A Culminating Activity

United States Coast Guard Academy

Ethics Activities in the Civil Engineering Curriculum at the United States Coast Guard Academy

University of Cincinnati

UnLecture on Software Engineering Ethics

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University

Ethics Sessions in a Summer Undergraduate Research Program

University of Pittsburgh

Using Student-Authored Case Studies to Teach Bioengineering Ethics

University of Wisconsin–Madison

Team Ethics Assignment:  Based on Engineering Student Co-Op Experience

Virginia Tech

Learning to Listen: A Tool for Morally Engaged Engineering Practice

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Humanitarian Engineering, Past and Present: A Role-Playing First-Year Course

Infusing Ethics Selection Committee

Stephanie J. Bird, ethics consultant and coeditor of Science and Engineering Ethics

Andrene Bresnan, director, Ethics and Business Conduct, The Boeing Company

Gerald E. Galloway, Jr., Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park

Joseph R. Herkert, visiting scholar, Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University

Sharon D. Kenny, civil engineer and project management professional

Indira Nair, professor and vice provost emerita, Carnegie Mellon University

Chris Schairbaum, director, Innovation and Development, Texas Instruments, Inc.