Dept. Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Ohio State University

ECE 3080 / 7080 Ethics in Electrical and Computer Engineering


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

Content: Engineering ethics (professionalism, codes of ethics, moral frameworks, engineering as social experimentation, safety/risk, 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. For 7080, also cover additional aspects of professionalism and research/publication ethics.

3080/7080: ECE 3080 is the course number for undergraduates and ECE 7080 is the course number for graduate students. The two courses meet simultaneously, mixing undergraduates and graduate students. ECE 7080 has two more lectures that will be viewed on-line, and one more homework assignment, than ECE 3080. These are labeled below. The final project is the same for both undergraduates and graduate students.

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. (For lectures, this Martin/Schinzinger book, and the book by Harris et al. that is given in the reading list below, are used.)

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, for instance, social justice, law as it pertains to ethics, and the history of electrical and computer engineering.

Related Opportunities: The OSU College of Engineering student organization,"Engineers for Community Service," (ECOS) or activities in the Humanitarian Engineering Center.

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 Center for Research and Professional Ethics
  3. Ethics CORE
  4. National Institute for Engineering Ethics
  5. Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions
  6. Association for Practical and Professional Ethics
  7. IEEE document of professional aspects of employment
  8. IEEE document on education/professionalism
  9. UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  10. IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology
  11. Texas A&M Univ. engineering ethics
  12. NSPE Board of Ethical Review

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,
  2. Read the required material.
  3. Provide solutions to all 5 homework assignments (ECE 3080) or 6 assignments (ECE 7080)
  4. Satisfactorily complete the final project (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.

Homework Assignments: All 5 homework assigments (ECE 3080) or 6 assignments (ECE 7080) are listed below. The assignments and their due dates are listed (in each case, the due date/time is the start of class time on the indicated day). Low quality solutions will not be accepted (ones graded with X). You will be asked to redo/improve those and resubmit for regrading; this is a "mastery course" you are required to do well in everything in order to pass. All solutions to homework problems must be typed and submitted electronically to Carmen.

Final Project: It is highly recommended that you form your design team and start on the project in the first few weeks of class, ideally the first week. It is your responsibility to find team members (3080 people with 3080 people, and 7080 people with 7080 people only), and each team must have between 2 and 4 members (no more, no less). You should aim at keeping the response to the final project less than 10 typed pages, but it will certainly be more than 5 pages (unless it says otherwise in the assignment). Solutions to the final project must be typed and submitted electronically to Carmen. Click here to see the details for this year's project: Final Project

The final project is due the last day of class, by the start of class (submitted electronically via Carmen).

Academic Misconduct Will Not Be Tolerated: Cheating in an Ethics Class is Clearly Unethical!:

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:

Jeremy Guttman,, TA Office hours: By appointment via Email to the TA

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

Lecture videos and slides given below, and at iTunesU, and videos at YouTube.

1. Introduction (lecture slides)[lecture 1 video]

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

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

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

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

6.-8. Case Studies for the Design Process (lecture slides) [lecture 6 video] [lecture 7 video] [lecture 8 video]

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

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

11. Honesty (lecture slides) [lecture 11 video]

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

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

14. Cautious Optimism and Moral Leadership (Homework #5 and Final Project due) (lecture slides) [lecture 14 video]

Recent cases:

  1. GM ignition switch recall
  2. Ethics of Hacking
  3. The STEM Crisis Myth