EMIS 5390: Special Topics: Ethics in Engineering
Ethics, typically the domain of philosophy and religious studies, has traditionally not received the attention it needs in engineering studies. However, because of increasing concern and media attention paid to engineering-related failures—such as the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Toyota’s brake problems, the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia disasters, the collapse of the Kansas City Hyatt-Regency walkway, and the Exxon oil spill in Alaska—a growing field of engineering ethics is beginning to emerge. The study of ethics in engineering is important mainly because engineers need to clearly understand that dealing in big ideas means there are often big implications. There are important ethical considerations regarding legal, social, and environmental responsibilities, as well as ethical issues surrounding negligence, safety, liability, and the like. To most effectively introduce engineering ethics into the classroom, case studies and essays on engineering ethics will be emphasized to create an environment for lively debate and discussion on ethical topics.
David Reid is Vice President and Ethics Director at Texas Instruments, Inc. In this capacity, Mr. Reid manages TI’s worldwide ethics program, global investigations, and US compliance in employment matters. He earned a B.B.A. in accounting (with honors) from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.S. in behavior management science from the University of Texas at Dallas. He is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a graduate of the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at SMU. Mr. Reid has been active in human resources and ethics matters for more than 30 years and has made numerous ethics-related presentations at universities and conferences around the world.
Learning Outcomes and Benefits
- Help engineering students recognize and understand ethical issues, including how to distinguish between and resolve different types of problems, such as factual issues, conceptual issues and moral issues
- Promote a sense of professional engineering responsibility
- Foster the development of analytical skills in ethics
- Help engineering students deal effectively with ambiguity and disagreement on ethical matters
The main teaching methods for this course are case study analyses, research papers on important ethical prompts, and examinations.