Building ethical engineering leaders: public welfare awareness in graduate education
A new NSF-funded project will result in a unique engineering graduate course on professional responsibility
Where does the power and responsibility lie when a company is developing technology that may be harmful to the public? A new project, funded by the National Science Foundation, aims to teach engineers that the responsibility lies with them—and empower them to take action.
Erin Cech and Cindy Finelli, faculty in the departments of sociology and electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, are designing a new master’s-level course to address what they view as a hole in the education of engineering students in the area of professional responsibility.
“The technological systems that we all live with are far more complicated than most lay persons can understand,” said Cech, an assistant professor of sociology in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. “Engineers understand the technologies well enough to know what they’re potentially capable of, and possibly even how to help reduce the public welfare issues that may arise from them.”