Kaskaskia College has begun offering an “Engineering Ethics” class as another key element to its successful pre-engineering program. The class is part of the final semester curriculum for students seeking an Associate of Engineering Science.
One may think of ethical engineering in terms of safety and quality of materials used in engineering projects. After all, engineering failures, such as the highway 35 bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed in 2007, can be deadly and extremely costly. But while the Engineering Ethics class does discuss these issues, it encompasses a surprisingly wide field of considerations that working engineers must face.
Ethical decision making is more than a cost-benefit analysis, according to Engineering Ethics class instructor Dr. Scott Crothers. “This class seeks to help pre-engineering students become more well-rounded,” Dr. Crothers said. “We try to look into the long term future of these students, and try to prepare them for the challenges that may lie ahead. For example, if the students become successful engineers, they may be fast-tracked to management positions. In that case, most of the decisions they make may be based more on ethics and less on math and science.”
The Kaskaskia College Pre-Engineering Program is always looking for ways to help give its students an advantage to ensure their success at the university level and beyond. The Engineering Ethics class is a requirement of the SIU Edwardsville School of Engineering, and taking the class at KC offers several advantages to the students. With small class sizes, the class can be tailored to the individual engineering disciplines and interests of the students; the class is a great tool for students to narrow their focus on the engineering track that is right for them, before they become locked into a discipline at the university; and the instructor, Dr. Scott Crothers, has an educational background that is ideally suited for teaching the class, with a Bachelors of Science in Physics, experience working as an engineer, and a Doctorate in Philosophy.
Dr. Cem Karacal, Professor and Associate Dean at the SIUE School of Engineering, spoke of the importance of ethics in engineering. “I believe that Engineering Ethics is increasingly gaining importance as the interactions in industry and business word are getting more and more intricate and complex,” Dr. Karacal said. “Sometimes the line between doing the right thing and the most appropriate and convenient thing is blurred as personal or professional gains take precedence over ethical decisions. I suggest this simple rule to my students; if you are having difficulty sleeping after making ethically fuzzy decisions, you are probably not doing the right thing. The decisions made by engineers in several phases of a project can lead consequences they may not initially realize. I suggest not using probability calculations when it comes to ethical versus not so ethical decisions as there is always one right thing to do regardless of the assessed uncertainties in a given project.”
“Taking the Engineering Ethics class at KC lessens the coursework for students transferring to the university level,” said Director of the Kaskaskia College Pre-engineering Program, Professor Eric Hofelich. “It puts KC students another step ahead.”
For more information on the KC Pre-engineering program or its 2+2 Articulation Agreement with SIU Edwardsville, please contact Professor Eric Hofelich at 618-545-3359 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.