ChE 2982: Ethics Module

Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh.

Fall 2019 

Hi - and welcome to the (minimal) webpage for the Ethics module of ChE2982!

  I will put the course slides on this webpage, so you can download the information and avoid/minimize writing in class.
If there is any additional information that you would like to find here, please let me know!
Syllabus general course information (Syllabus for ChE2982 - Ethics Section)

Lecture Notes Aug. 28:  Foundations of Ethics
Sept. 4:   Professional Codes of Ethics: ABET, AIChE, ACS, BMES
Oct. 2: Ethics in Research: Treatment of Data, Fraud, Misconduct
                (Supplementary material: final reports on Schön and on Schatten cases)
. 9:  Ethics in Research and Graduate Studies:
                Conflict of Interest, Allocation of Credit, Authorship; Responsibilities & rights as a graduate student
                (Supplementary reading:Getting the Most out of Graduate School by R. Rajagopalan.)

Oct. 30:  Project presentations (plan for full 2h)
Nov. 6:   no class (all presentations will be on 10/30, per in-class vote)

Ethics Project Presentations Oct. 30:   suggested presentation order
Group 1:  The VW Emissions Scandal  (Mona, Maya, Burke)
Group 3:  Driverless Vehicles (Fan, Sungil, Ritesh)
Group 2:  Microplastics  (Chris, Riddesh, Robert, Priyanka)
Group 4:  Theranos: Ethical Considerations in Drug Testing  (Miranda, Meiirbeck, Xin)
Group 5:  Designer Babies  (Stefanos, Lauren, Henry)

Ethics Project Form teams of ~3 students (preferentially with similar research interests). You are strongly encouraged to form groups with as diverse cultural backgrounds as possible!
Research ethical issues on a topic of relevance to chemical engineering - ideally, in the area of your (planned) graduate research. Important: Make sure that this report is NOT a generic report, but applies what we have discussed in class specifically to your chosen topic (say, shale gas, drug delivery, smart materials, or whichever topic you choose!).
Approach the topic from as many angles as you can think of: What are historical events with ethical implications in this area; what issues can you anticipate if the technology gets (more) widely adopted; what are ethical issues that could occur during graduate studies in this field; what issues might be relevant for a professional engineer working in the respective industry; how about legislation on this topic; engineers approaching the public, etc.
Apply & reflect what we discussed in the course!

Write a report summarizing and discussing these issues. The report is supposed to be 5-8 pages in length (11 pt TimesRoman or similar font, 1.5 line spacing, US letter-size, 1” margins, with references, figures, and tables not counting towards this page limit).

Additionally, you will give a 15 min. oral presentation on this report. All presentations will be given on the dates shown in the schedule above. Each presentation will be followed by a (brief) discussion period.  
Important Note:  Please make sure to stay within your alloted time (i.e. no more than 15 min!).  I suggest no more than ~10 slides maximum for a 15 min presentation (just as a guideline - you may adjust as you see fit!)

All written reports as well as any material to be used for the presentations (such as powerpoint files) are due by email on Friday, October 25th, at 5PM
(There will be a 0.5 grade point penalty for each day that your report is late).

Grading The Ethics module will be graded as follows: 35% each for the written and oral project reports, and 30% class participation. This grade then accounts for 50% of your overall CHE2982 course grade.

The reports (both oral and written) will be graded according to the following criteria:

  • Content: Does the report reflect a plausible effort towards reflecting on a broad spectrum of ethical issues concerning the topic? Is the discussion making use of (some of) the ethical theories ('ethical toolbox') discussed in class?
  • Resources: Does the report make use of an appropriate number of resources? Are these resources properly referenced?
  • Structure/Organization: Is the report well structured and organized?
  • Language/Style: Does the report use appropriate "technical" language and writing styles?

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me as soon as possible.

Report Writing & Presentation Hints Below is a number of links to resources that you might find helpful in writing your report.
  • Hints and tips in this pdf-document about 'how to give effective presentations'.
  • The AIChE Style Manual has some helpful tips for good presentation practices.
  • A nice (student prepared!) page with many links to resources on this topic is the 'Bunsen Learner' at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Finally, the LabWrite Project at NCSU is a good resource on report writing. Although it was prepared for lab reports, many aspects are directly transferrable to any technical report.

Recommended Format for References Number the references in the order of appearance in your text. The correct way to reference a journal article [1], a chapter or section of in an edited book [2], a web resource [3] and a patent [4] are listed below. (There are many different ways to handle citations! This is by no means the only, best, ... way to do it - but it is one of the more commonly used ones.)

[1] Author list, “Full title”, Full Name of Journal, issue (year) first page – last page.
[2] Author list, “Full title”, in: “Book title”, Editors list (eds), Publisher, Location, Year, pp. first page – last page.
[3], 09/29/03 (i.e. date on which you got information from webpage)
[4] Inventor list, Company name, "Full title of Patent", Year, U.S. Patent #XXXX (or: Eur. Patent #, etc)

Additional Information:   (for interested students)
The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University has a large collection of information on how to collect, organize, and cite information from divers resources, as well as many writing style hints! (The page is a bit confusing in its organization, but well worth the time digging through!)
Finally, this APA webpage has further links that detail the way of citing electronic media as recommended by APA (APA style is one of the most common citation styles).

Any questions? Send me an e-mail!

Calvin & Hobbes - ethics