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Conference Proceeding

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Even without a focused interest in the topic, as we enter the third decade of the 21st Century one would have a difficult time ignoring the steady flow of stories reporting tragic consequences arising from engineering decisions that appear to have omitted ethical components, and of ethical dilemmas arising from contemporary engineering and computer science. Similarly, one would have to be willful to miss an equally steady drumbeat of calls for improved ethics in engineering and computer science education.

However, one can make the argument that simply offering new or more content related to ethics in engineering education is not enough. With an eye on engineering a response to these issues, we propose that systemic changes are warranted including who presents and guides ethics content, how students are brought face-to-face with ethics and how ethics content is threaded into a curriculum, and how the real and existential outcomes of engineering decisions are assessed both in design stages and in professional applications.

This case study report describes efforts to introduce ethics into the engineering practice expected of students in undergraduate Senior Design courses through the work of a sociologist “embedded” in a College of Engineering. We identify and describe our intellectual framework, instructional methods, student assignments, and report early evaluations based on objective measures and student comments.

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© 2020, American Society for Engineering Education, Proceedings of ASEE Annual Conference, Virtual On line.