• Katherine Pan

Review of EG2401A: Engineering Professionalism

Year took: AY20/21 Semester 2


We rely on our moral compass to navigate moral dilemmas, and in EG2401A we learn about the moral compass engineers rely on in the workplace. Unique frameworks pertaining to different situations were taught to account for the various complex problems engineers may face throughout their careers. The module is a continual assessment with no final exams. The assessment criteria are as follow:


1) Tutorial Participation – 40%

2) Group Project – 60%

- Project Report

- Project Presentation


Lectures

EG2401A had weekly 2-hours lectures and the module was taught by four lecturers. Lecture content includes ethical theories and methodologies, academic research ethics, professional code of ethics, conflicts of interest, responsibilities in engineering, and intellectual property rights and protection.


I found lectures to be enjoyable because of how interesting and thought-provoking it was. The lecture examples were highly effective in conveying the importance of engineering ethics. Real-life examples such as the space shuttle Challenger disaster and Bhopal disaster were cited to reflect the serious ethical consequences that arise from engineering. These accidents could have been prevented but lapses of judgment led to its unraveling, which serves as a grave reminder of the heavy responsibilities engineers shoulder.


On week 10 Prof Lee held a voluntary review class and I recommend attending it. Besides clarifying our questions regarding the lecture content and the project, Prof Lee gave out additional invaluable tips on how to score better for the project report.


Tutorials

Tutorials were face-to-face classes, and my tutor was Prof Wang. In tutorial 0, attendance was mandatory to assign us to our project groups. For subsequent tutorials attendance was optional, but I suggest attending them as class participation is graded. In every tutorial session, a single group would present their answers to the entire tutorial worksheet, followed by a question-and-answer session with the class.


I would have preferred if multiple groups took part in presenting their answers on different segments of the worksheet instead of having one team present all of it. Firstly, some tutorial worksheets are much longer than others, so it is unfair for some groups due to the increased workload. Secondly, it provides more students the opportunity to speak up about the topic and share their insights instead of listening to the opinions of a single team. However, the format of tutorials differs from tutor to tutor.


Project

In tutorial 0, each group would choose their project topic from a given list containing 9 topics that range from technology, ethical conduct, to safety and environmental concerns. A 2-pages interim report outlining the scope of the project and its progress was to be submitted in recess week, while a 20-pages final report was to be submitted on week 11. In weeks 12 and 13, groups would give a 20-minutes presentation on their project topic.


My team chose to focus on global positioning systems (GPS), location-sensing smart devices, and their technologies. We had to consider different major application developments of such technologies; summarize the ethical dilemmas that were raised in the new technologies and possible solutions with consideration of the present and future.


In writing our report, we used ethical theories to define how ethical dilemmas can arise while using such technologies. We also included ethical problem-solving techniques, which are methodologies to determine whether a set of actions and solutions are the most ethical. Although it was easy to pinpoint possible ethical dilemmas, we faced difficulty finding real-life examples that portrayed the violation of specific ethics we mentioned. It could take me several hours of research just to find a suitable example that effectively illustrates so. Furthermore, we had to scan through countless research papers to propose solutions that tackle both technical and ethical shortcomings, which led to numerous sleepless nights.


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For the group presentation, we were graded under group project while the Q&A segment after each presentation was graded as part of class participation. To score for the Q&A segment, the groups in my class exchanged questions that we would like one another to ask to ensure that we can prepare our answers beforehand.


Conclusion

All in all, I think that EG2401A has a demanding workload for a 2MC module. Instead, it felt like a 4MC module due to the report and presentation. I suggest starting work on the final report as soon as possible as its submission deadline is much earlier than the usual week 13 deadline set by other modules.

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