Ethics in Automotive Engineering
Conference contribution, 2019
The need for reflecting engineers that can deal with ethical dilemmas are increasingly important. In the automotive field, the “diesel gate” in 2015 has put the ethical aspect in focus. However, this scandal can be explained by a consequence of (bad) political decisions and (insufficient) technological development. The dilemma for the students (and the society as well) is that these problems are complex and that there are no clear “right or wrong”. Nevertheless, no matter how difficult the problem, ethical dilemmas will need to be dealt with and the future engineers from Chalmers can contribute to a more (ethically) sustainable future.
In the master’s program Automotive Engineering (MPAUT), the course in Internal Combustion Engines (MTF240) is used as the platform for practice in ethical reflections. With central support (from Karl Fine de Licht), the “applied ethics” approach is implemented using a bottom-up approach, working with a hypothetical but realistic ethical dilemma. The TLA consists of one lecture and one assignment. By applying a “generic model for critical thinking on ethical issues”, the students write a small assignment (two by two) within the course.
The students perform reasonably well, and the correction of the PMs is not very rigorous. In the future, the assessment may need to be more stringent as well as the lecture and instruction also need to be continuously improved. The course evaluations are generally positive (however not excellent, average 4.0) and the students are not used to this kind of assignment. However, it’s very interesting and rewarding (as a teacher) to read the students reflections and even if their ethical reflection skills are not very advanced, the reflection exercise is hopefully a valuable experience in their future career.