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Summary form only given. This paper, representing a work-in-progress, proposes the practice of humbleness as a practical vehicle for training students in engineering ethics. To help understand the relationship between humbleness and engineering ethics, this paper adopts a two-fold approach. First, it focuses on the antithesis of humbleness, namely arrogance, and argues that whenever the occurrence of an engineering disaster in the real world had been traced, following investigation, to unethical decision making, arrogance had invariably emerged as the root cause of the problem. Second, in sharp contrast to arrogance, humbleness is defined as unpretentious, freedom from conceit and vanity, and placing a moderate estimate on one's own abilities or worth. Thus, humbleness is likely to refine, sharpen, and broaden one's thinking, keep one's mind clear and open to the unlimited possibilities in nature, contain selfishness, and prepare one for ethical decision making in real-world situations. Under this work-in-progress, an experiment has been under way between 1999 and the present, spanning Arizona State University and Stevens Institute of Technology, focused on analyzing the practice of humbleness and its impact on a specific attribute of ethical decision making, in engineering design teams. Students working in teams are instructed to extend measured trust to their peers, subject to verification, and listen to their ideas with genuine respect and constructive criticism, as a practical manifestation of humbleness. Preliminary data indicates that the groups' decisions are highly constructive, synergistic, and positive, leading to successful projects that are highly beneficial to society and potentially patentable.
Frontiers in Education, 2002. FIE 2002. 32nd Annual (Volume:3 )
Date of Conference: 6-9 Nov. 2002