Ethical practice is crucial for ensuring public trust in engineers and engineering, especially as engineers increasingly tackle international and socially complex problems that combine technical and ethical challenges. Both ABET, the group that accredits engineering programs in the US, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have acknowledged the importance of preparing engineers for ethical practice by requiring accredited and funded programs to develop undergraduate and graduate student competence in this area. However, there is not much information about the range of relevant activities and programs available, nor has there been an effort to review how the ethics requirements for ABET accreditation and NSF grants are fulfilled in engineering and engineering technology programs.
This project reviews and recognizes the variety of exceptional programs and strategies for improving engineers’ understanding of ethical and social issues and creates a resource for those who aim to improve the ethical development of engineers at their own institutions.
The NAE Center for Engineering Ethics and Society solicited descriptions of engineering ethics activities at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the United States. Faculty and deans were asked asked to (as relevant)
- nominate diverse ethics activities (e.g., courses, workshops, other campus-based programs, and off-campus programs) at their own or other universities, and/or
- submit a description of an ethics activity they conduct, and/or
- describe the challenges to implementation of these activities and approaches to address them.
Nominations and submissions were accepted through September 18, 2015 12 noon EDT. The Call for Submissions, and Frequently Asked Questions are availble for further information.
A selection committee of engineering and ethics experts reviewed and categorized the submissions and selected exemplary activities to highlight in the final report. The report is modeled after the NAE’s Infusing Real World Experiences into Engineering Education report and was released in February 2016.