Teaching professional engineering ethics in civil and construction engineering

Hossein Ataei, Ossama M. Salem

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Articlepeer-review


Engineers are important contributors towards the economic prosperity and development of societies as they strive to improve the quality of life for all people. In their relations with the employers and clients, the Professional Engineers shall act in professional manners as faithful agents or trustees for each employer or client. However, in this practice, the engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty, integrity, fairness and impartiality in protecting the public health and safety in delivering professional services. To that end, engineers must perform their professional duties in compliance with the highest principles of ethical conduct. The Civil Engineering graduates, through their careers, will be involved in working in teams or managing projects where decision making will often be an inevitable part of their responsibilities. Therefore, there is an emerging need within the engineering education curricula across the nation for developing ethical decision-making frameworks and to place an emphasis on theories and canons of professional ethics and the stakeholder models in conjunction or often beyond the technical teachings and competency development objectives. This paper presents further the three courses in the Construction Engineering and Management program at Syracuse University where the professional engineering ethics is pursued through their incorporation into the Civil Engineering curriculum: (1) "CIE 401 - Construction Engineering" - a senior/juniorlevel core course through which students are introduced to the ethical obligations and principles in professional engineering practice and learn about unethical issues particularly within the context of construction engineering profession; (2) "CIE 475 - Senior Design Project" - a core senior-level capstone course where different ethical frameworks and stake-holder model theories in professional decision-making are taught. In addition, the graduating students obtain more in-depth and practical insight of the ethical obligations in engineering practice through the case studies and in-class group discussions; and (3) "CIE 400/600 - Construction Regulations and Organizational Management" - an undergraduate/graduate-level elective course in which the theories of ethics are presented to the class and discussed further in terms of the existing different viewpoints towards ethics in managing an engineering enterprise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 26 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 29 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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