Training graduate engineering students in ethics

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings


American Society for Engineering Education




The Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas embarked on providing ethics instruction to incoming graduate students in the form of a mandatory workshop. The College has a diverse graduate student population, including a sizable international component, who are enrolled in several M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs within four departments. Faculty felt that training in ethics was needed to better prepare incoming students for successful graduate studies and working professionally after graduation. Therefore, a standalone workshop was developed that covered four major topics: Research Ethics, Computer Coding Ethics, Publishing Ethics, and Intellectual Property. The last topic covered copyright law, patent law, and trade secrets. To develop this ethics workshop, some ethics instruction programs at U.S. engineering colleges were investigated. The workshop included a lecture on the basics of each ethical topic and a panel discussion with campus experts in each of the four topics, including faculty from the School of Law and the College of Engineering. The panel discussion was open, and based upon questions posed anonymously in advance. At the end of the workshop, each participant received a flash drive with the lecture slides, a Frequently Asked Questions document containing written answers provided by the panelists, a bibliography, and resource materials for all four ethics topics. Assessment of the workshop's effectiveness included pre- and post-workshop surveys of participants as well as feedback from faculty and panelists. Preliminary results included panelist support for continuing to offer the workshop and a good level of attendance by both new and returning graduate students. Based on the pilot test of this workshop in May 2015 and the first two sessions that were rolled out in Fall 2015, the College of Engineering decided to continue the workshops for incoming graduate students. Current activity includes updating the content of future workshops based on continuing assessment of student learning and the content of participant questions for the panelists. © American Society for Engineering Education, 2016.