ENEE200, also known as the ethics course in engineering is all about ethics. Ethics are according to Merriam Webster, “moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.” The course teaches you the guidelines of what constitutes ethical behavior through case studies. Here are five things you should walk away knowing from ENEE200.
1. Discuss political, social, economic, and ethical dimensions related to the design, construction and maintenance of technological systems
This is just really loaded jargon for “find out how politics, society, the economy, and personal reasons influence ethics.” Politics can play a huge role in ethics. For instance, one party might think homosexuals do not deserve to be treated equally under the law while another party believes everyone should be treated the same regardless of sexual orientation. The ethic in question is equality. Society can have an impact on ethics as well. There is an unspoken rule on standing up for the anthem when it is played. The rule is not a law but people will think you’re disrespectful if you don’t stand up.
2. Go beyond simplistic explanations to explain ways that gender stereotypes impact engineering, engineering design and technological development
Women don’t go into engineering for many reasons. There is even a Women in Engineering club here at UMD to promote inclusiveness. Still, engineering remains a male-dominant subject. Maybe women feel pressure not to do “manly” things. Or maybe they are told they won’t become anything because they have entered a male dominated field. Whatever the reason, you will have to explain why you feel this is a valid explanation for why women don’t go into engineering.
3. Define basic terms, concepts, and approaches that experts employ in studying technical systems in order to achieve better outcome
Well this one is self-explanatory. There are terms you have to know associated with ethics. You will have to know what they mean and how they apply to the course. The term ‘ethics’ is definitely going to be one of those words. You might be asked for your own definition on a test or quiz. Or maybe you’ll be asked the thought process of an engineer when faced with an ethical dilemma. A short essay question might be to name the approach you would take in a certain situation to see if you really understand decision-making.
4. Create case studies based on current events and technologies and communicate them effectively to your classmates and to a diverse audience
This one is really fun. You’ve spent the entire semester looking at historical cases of ethics gone wrong. Now for the final project, you will be tasked with researching and reporting on your own case study. The case study has to be current…after all, no one wants to hear about a case from 100 years ago, do they? Make it interesting or all your classmates will fall asleep and you will get a bad grade! Also, having presentations are a good way to improve your social skills.
5. Articulate how this course has helped you develop a different perspective about the use of technology in your own life, and its role in creating, perpetuating and solving what you believe to be the most pressing issues that we face today.
Ahh the reflection. Everyone hates doing them, but self criticism is necessary for you to improve as a human-being. Self reflection helps to build emotional self-awareness. By taking the time to ask yourself the important questions, you gain a better understanding of your emotions, strengths, weaknesses and driving factors. Once you understand important aspects of the self, you become better able to adapt to changing situations and tough circumstances. Do you know why you are always rushing around trying to get everything done in a hurry? Ever thought about stopping and taking time to think?
ENEE200 is an exciting course on ethics at UMD. But the course is not just for engineers. Everyone can learn something about the human capacity for empathy. Did you know humans along with other high level animals have the built in capacity for reasoning and empathy? But humans are so far the only animals who take the time to figure out the consequences of a particular action. Taking this course should be mandatory for all university students come to think of it. You will learn so much about yourself and the world around you.