Engineering Ethics Cases for Electrical and Computer Engineering Students Essay

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284 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 43, NO. 3, AUGUST 2000 Engineering Ethics Cases for Electrical and Computer Engineering Students Abstract—Rarely is electrical technology at the focus of the classic case studies used in engineering ethics courses and textbooks. This makes it sometimes difficult to excite and to motivate electrical and computer engineering students to study and discuss these cases. In teaching engineering ethics to these students, it can be valuable to employ case studies that involve technical issues that electrical and computer engineers have already studied in other courses. In this paper, four engineering ethics case studies covering topics that have been shown to interest electrical and computer engineering students are presented. Index Terms—Case studies, engineering ethics. I. INTRODUCTION NGINEERING ethics courses and texts frequently utilize “classic” case studies to illustrate important ethical concepts and to spark class discussion. Unfortunately, these classic cases rarely involve electrical technology. Although electrical engineering (EE) and computer engineering (CompE) students are capable of understanding the ethical issues brought up by cases such as the space shuttle Challenger accident or the failure of the walkways at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, these cases often do not sufficiently engage their interest. For class sections with substantial enrollment of these students, it is valuable to have case studies that draw on the students’ previous classroom experience and involve technical as well as ethical issues that will engage them. Four case studies that have been shown to interest EE and CompE students are presented in this paper. (Two of these cases are sometimes included in engineering ethics texts, but generally without thorough discussion of the technical issues.) These case studies have been

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