Researchers are pursuing the thoughts of undergraduate engineering students on ethical accountability in their studies and future occupations.
Start: May 15, 2015
End: April 30, 2020
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
- Principal Investigator: Gregg Warnick
- Co-Investigator: Brad Agle
Gregg Warnick and Brad Agle are teaming up with researchers from Purdue University, Colorado School of Mines, and Arizona State University to investigate the views that undergraduate engineering students have on ethical accountability and moral behavior in their field of study. This study will follow students through their respective four-year engineering programs, researching what views the students have on their own professional accountability as an engineer.
The researchers will first investigate what beginning undergraduates identify to be appropriate practices and behaviors. This information will provide an inside-look into what students perceive as their ethical responsibilities as they first enter their programs. These interviews will be repeated as the students are in the eighth semester of their programs. This allows the researchers to investigate the maturing ethical views of these students and provides an in-depth look into how the students’ thoughts change over the course of their programs. These findings will open doors into asking what changed students’ thoughts and how their courses and programs influenced their thinking. The researchers will be able to find what experiences impacted students’ changes in thought and lead to discovery of what key impressions are made as an engineering student emerges from a learning institution and into the working field.
Warnick, et al. are using a precise and well-defined research plan to collect their information. The study will include undergraduate students from all four participating universities, to poll a variety of engineering students. In each of these universities, researchers are selecting a diversity of students to provide correct and reliable data, including those in service-learning opportunities, intellectually-centered courses, and in emphasized ethical training. This four-year range study is a distinctive chance to explore engineering ethics through the vantage point of first-hand occupants currently receiving moral instruction. The insights received from this study are a rare advancement in the engineering field because few studies have been done on the understandings of ethics by engineering students. The researchers participating in the study have skillful knowledge in fields ranging from engineering to ethics to business, allowing for an accurate administration of the study.
Currently, learning programs exist to train engineers and engineering students to establish good ethical practice and to become more involved citizens in their communities. These programs are highly valued as they improve the professional behavior of the engineers in our society. This research hopes to inform these programs on what engineering students already view as their ethical accountabilities in the workforce and how these thoughts change throughout the students’ unique experiences in a university program. Ethics courses will be benefited from the research found on learning experiences of engineering students and their perceptions of ethical accountability.
We trust engineers to be safe, reliable, and accountable in their designs and projects for our community. Because these students are an essential part of our society’s improvement and function, these learning courses will have a rippling impact in the professional accountability of not only themselves as engineers, but also of those with whom they work.