This activity is considered an NAE Exemplar in Engineering Ethics Education and was included in a 2016 report with other exemplary activities.
Exemplary features: Deeply embedded ethics education that is integrated through a multiyear program
Why it’s exemplary: The Civil Engineering Program at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) fosters ethical leader development and global awareness through a breadth of required core courses in the humanities, science, engineering, mathematics, professional maritime studies, organizational behavior, management, leadership, and law. Civil Engineering faculty, guided by our ABET assessment framework, advance student development in ethics, global, and cross-cultural issues that are tied specifically to the civil engineering profession through assignments and other curricular experiences that are regularly assessed and improved. Leadership and ethical development are cornerstones of the USCGA education and the civil engineering faculty, like all faculty across campus, are charged with ensuring that upon graduation, each student has developed into a leader of character. The combination of core courses, major-specific engineering courses, and cocurricular activities provides students with opportunities to develop leadership and professional ethical conduct required for engineering practice and service as Coast Guard officers.
Program description: During their sophomore year, civil engineering students take the Leadership and Organizational Behavior (3 credits) course in which they are exposed to fundamental leadership and management concepts. Some of the concepts discussed include values and ethics, personality, self-awareness, working in teams, motivation, and setting a vision, with particular emphasis on practical leadership implications. As juniors, civil engineering students take required core courses such as Morals and Ethics (3 credits) and Criminal Justice (3 credits). As seniors, they study Maritime Law Enforcement (3 credits). The Morals and Ethics course includes two main components: (1) ethical theories, both historical and contemporary, with arguments for and against them; and (2) applied ethics, both in general and using case studies in a specific field. Throughout the semester, students examine a range of philosophical views about what makes actions right or wrong, characters good or bad, to develop their decision-making abilities, their own moral voice, and an appreciation for the place of reasoned argument in the treatment of ethical problems. Students also study and explore basic legal concepts in Criminal Justice and Maritime Law Enforcement, learning specifically about the US civilian and military criminal justice system and legal issues associated with the Coast Guard’s law enforcement mission in the maritime environment. Ethical and global issues are also progressively woven into the major-specific civil engineering courses. Some examples of how professional ethics are emphasized throughout the civil engineering curriculum are highlighted below:
Assessment information: USCGA has established a set of shared-learning outcomes (for all academic programs) that include leadership abilities; personal and professional qualities; the ability to acquire, integrate, and expand knowledge; effective communication; and the ability to think critically. The shared-learning outcomes are aligned with the ABET Student Outcomes, with specifically developed performance indicators related to ethics. Faculty members have created assignments and rubrics to assess student progress and improve student development in professional ethics for each performance indicator. By integrating professional ethics development and assessment in the existing civil engineering assessment model, faculty have successfully threaded this competency into the curriculum using a sustainable and effective framework. For example, the performance indicators for two ABET student outcomes, 3f and 3h, are used to assess ethics and professional issues in the civil engineering curriculum. ABET 3f, “an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility,” is evaluated by the following specific performance indicators:
ABET 3h, “the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts,” is addressed with two performance indicators:
Faculty members have crafted assignments and rubrics related to these performance indicators to ensure student development in ethical and global issues relating to civil engineering. Thresholds and performance targets were established for the successful achievement of the performance indicators, with different performance targets for exams and nonexam activities (e.g., projects, homework, reports, technical paper, oral presentations). Students are considered to have demonstrated satisfactory achievement of a performance indicator if their score (grade on a particular assessment tool) meets or exceeds 70%. A course is classified as producing satisfactory student achievement on a performance indicator if it meets one or both of the following performance targets:
This well-established ABET assessment system is used to evaluate student progress throughout the academic year and monitored at the end of course review, when assessment data on student performance are discussed for each course. To ensure continuous improvements, recommendations are documented for implementation during the next cycle of course offerings. Graduates of USCGA receive a degree and a commission as a Coast Guard officer: We are preparing students to provide engineering expertise while serving their mandatory 5-year commitment to the Coast Guard, and their ethics and leadership are continually service tested for a minimum of 5 years after graduation.
American Society of Civil Engineers Code of Ethics: www.asce.org/code_of_ethics/
This is a syllabus for the capstone civil engineering course taught at the United States Coast Guard Academy. The course is part of a multi-year ethics education program that was selected as an NAE Exemplar in Engineering Ethics in 2016 for deeply embedded ethics education.
This is a feedback form for case study presentations given as part of the Civil Engineering Design capstone course taught at the United States Coast Guard Academy. The course is part of a multi-year ethics education program that was selected as an NAE Exemplar in Engineering Ethics in 2016 for deeply embedded ethics education.
This is the Grading Rubric for the ethics presentation given as part of the Civil Engineering Design capstone course taught at the United States Coast Guard Academy. The course is part of a multi-year ethics education program that was selected as an NAE Exemplar in Engineering Ethics in 2016 for deeply embedded ethics education.
This is a syllabus for a course taught at the United States Coast Guard Academy. The course is part of a multi-year ethics education program that was selected as an NAE Exemplar in Engineering Ethics in 2016 for deeply embedded ethics education.
This is a case assignment for a course taught at the United States Coast Guard Academy. The course is part of a multi-year ethics education program that was selected as an NAE Exemplar in Engineering Ethics in 2016 for deeply embedded ethics education. The cases themselves can be found on the OEC, on Texas A&M's ethics site, or in the NSPE case collection.