Contextualize Teaching of Ethics in Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Contextualize Teaching of Ethics in Chemical Engineering Curriculum

J. Yau, S. CHEAH, S. Phua (2013).  Contextualize Teaching of Ethics in Chemical Engineering Curriculum. 10.

The Diploma in Chemical Engineering (DCHE) course of Singapore Polytechnic (SP) adopted the CDIO framework as the basis for its curriculum since 2007. Since adoption, specific CDIO skills have been successfully integrated in various core modules in the 3-year diploma program. A range of Interpersonal Skills, such as teamwork and communication, and Personal & Professional Skills are now established curriculum components.

This paper presents the approach taken by DCHE to integrate engineering ethics (EE) into its curriculum. Firstly, through a comparison of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Singapore Polytechnic’s customized CDIO Syllabus, key concepts relating to engineering ethics are derived and applied to the context of chemical engineering.

Secondly, based on a literature review on teaching EE; key perspectives (e.g. “micro” or “macro” focus), approaches (e.g. case studies, codes of ethics), and issues relating to proficiency levels and who is best positioned to teach such content, are explored.

Thirdly, we share our approach that balances both micro and macro focus to integrating ethics into the curriculum. We present integration examples in the 3-year curriculum, emphasizing a case-based learning approach using the famous “Incident at Morales” video. The pedagogic methods encourage students’ critical thinking to build understanding of social and organizational aspects of engineering contexts, especially the different underlying valuations that, consciously or otherwise, often shape engineering decisions. We also summarize results from student surveys on their learning experiences, identifying issues and challenges faced, as well as key pedagogic insights.

Finally, we offer some recommendations for future work to further enhance understanding and practice in this very pedagogically challenging curriculum area.

Proceedings of the 9th International CDIO Conference, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 9 – 13, 2013.

Authors (New): 
Jessy J.C. Yau
S.T. Phua
Singapore Polytechnic, Singapore
Engineering ethics
code of ethics
case study
Chemical Engineering
CDIO Skills
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