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Is engineering ethics optional?

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1 Author(s)

As engineering work becomes more complex, an understanding of engineering ethics becomes as important to the proper education of engineers as their knowledge of differential equations. In the engineering world of the future, a sound understanding of the theoretical and practical sides of engineering ethics will be as necessary to the proper education of engineers as a knowledge of differential equations is today, if not more so. The author supports this assertion with three arguments: 1) engineering ethics is now a mature, practical academic discipline whose practitioners deal primarily with real engineering cases, not just abstract philosophical theories; 2) engineering work is now more complex than ever, and its ethical, social, and cultural effects can no longer be dealt with on the "seat-of-the-pants" basis that sufficed when engineered systems were simpler; 3) while most engineering students come to college with a working understanding of general ethical principles already, they need classroom practice to understand and deal with the complex and subtle issues of professional responsibility in engineering before they encounter ethical problems in the real engineering world.

Published in:

Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:20 ,  Issue: 4 )

Date of Publication:

Winter 0

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