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An Engineering Ethics and Safety Course Integrated With Quality Management
This paper presents a team taught engineering ethics and safety course developed for chemical, computer, and electrical engineering students but open to any undergraduate student at sophomore level and above. The students in the course explored the relationships between ethics and engineering by applying classical ethical frameworks and decision making to engineering issues encountered by engineers. Additional course coverage included quality management concepts (ISO 9001) relating ethics to workplace and product safety. The basis of the course was to afford the students the capability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgements, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts. The students were evaluated in 5 categories (1) weekly reading/writing briefs; (2) weekly presentations/discussions; (3) midterm project; (4) final project; and individual quizzes. As such, the majority of the class was based on team work and team activities included peer evaluations. One major group project presentation and one team written report covered ethics methodologies and various cases so students learned and discussed different ethics cases. The presentations and discussion integrated industry professionals. Three professionals presented and discussed engineering professional ethics standards, safety in remote vehicular space craft, and legal concerns of ethics and safety at a corporate level for a defense company. Safety was covered using American Chemical Society and OSHA guidelines for both chemical and electrical safety in the academic laboratories and in industry. In addition, fault tree analysis was taught using examples such as the nuclear melt down at Three Mile Island. Finally, quality management tools were also integrated into the course to calculate process capabilities and moving average and range charts based on archival data created by students. This was followed by testing of the additional new data to determine when operator intervention is required.