Dept. Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Ohio State University

ECE 3080 Ethics in Electrical and Computer Engineering


Instructor: Prof. Kevin Passino (email me if you need an appointment)

History: Offered annually since Autumn 1991.

Content: Engineering ethics (professionalism, codes of ethics, moral frameworks, engineering as social experimentation, safetyrisk, workplace, honesty, environmental, global) via a theory/case-study approach with a special focus on cases in electrical and computer engineering, volunteerism/humanitarian engineering, and social justice throughout.

Text book (required): Martin M.W., Schinzinger R., Ethics in Engineering, 4th Ed., McGraw-Hill, NY, 2005 (NOT earlier editions). Purchase the textbook, read it all this semester, and keep it for life. Use this book, and the book by Harris et al. for lectures.

Reading List: See the reading list of topics relevant to the area of professionalism and engineering eithics. If not now, later in life you should read more about social justice, law as it pertains to ethics, and the history of electrical and computer engineering.

Extra-Curricular Opportunities: The OSU College of Engineering student organization,"Engineers for Community Service," (ECOS).

Web Resources: See the following web sites for more materials on engineering ethics and professionalism:

  1. The Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science:
  2. National Institute for Engineering Ethics:
  3. Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions at IIT:
  4. Association for Practical and Professional Ethics at IU:
  5. IEEE document of professional aspects of employment, click here.
  6. IEEE document on education/professionalism, click here.
  7. UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, click here.
  8. IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology
  9. Texas A&M Univ. engineering ethics:
  10. NSPE Board of Ethical Review:
  11. National Center for Research and Professional Ethics, Univ. Illinois:

Requirements: You are expected to:

  1. Attendance: Attend every class (one excused absence is allowed but the request for this must be made via email to Prof. Passino, passino.1[at] (of course, replace "[at]" with "@"). If you miss a class you can review what was done via the lecture slides that are given for each lecture below.
  2. Read the required material.
  3. Provide solutions to all 5 homework assignments
  4. Satisfactorily complete the final project (see below).
  5. Satisfactorily complete the final exam (see below)

Meeting all these expectations will result in an S grade. Not meeting even any one of of these requirements will result in a grade of U. This is a required ECE class and you are required to get an S in it in order to graduate.

Teaching Assistant: The teaching assistant (TA) will take attendance and grade all assignments (all questions about grading are to be directed to him). The TA is:

Alejandro J. Piña Ortega <>, TA Office hours: By appointment via Email to the TA

Lecture Topics, Slides, and Homework Assignments (by Lecture #, not Week #):

1. Introduction (lecture slides)

2. Ethical Dilemmas, Choices, and Codes of Ethics (Homework #1 assigned) (lecture slides)

3. Moral Frameworks for Engineering Ethics (Homework #1 due) (lecture slides)

4. Engineering as Social Experimentation (Homework #2 assigned) (lecture slides)

5. Safety and Risk (Homework #2 due) (lecture slides)

6.-8. Case Studies for the Design Process (lecture slides)

9. Engineer's Responsibilities and Rights (Homework #3 assigned) (lecture slides)

10. Case Studies for the Workplace (Homework #3 due) (lecture slides)

11. Honesty (lecture slides)

12. Environmental Ethics (Homework #4 assigned) (lecture slides)

13. Global Issues (Homework #4 due) (Homework #5 assigned) (lecture slides)

14. Cautious Optimism and Moral Leadership (Homework #5 due) (lecture slides)