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ME101: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering

  • Unit 2: Ethics and Communication  

    This section introduces two vital matters that you will encounter in any engineering project: ethics and communication.  As a mechanical engineer, you should be able to evaluate all aspects of your project and understand how it will impact society and the environment.  Many times, engineers are put into difficult ethical situations when they must make product design and manufacturing decisions.  When faced with one of these controversial situations, you should know how to make the most ethically sound choice.

    Engineers must also know how to communicate to justify their decisions and project findings to their audiences, whomever they may include.  This means that you must be able to decipher technical jargon so that someone who is unfamiliar with your area of expertise can still understand the impact of your completed project.  Miscommunication can have harmful or even devastating impacts; it is therefore imperative that you minimize its occurrence.  This unit will cover common technical documents, writing techniques, and presentation tactics that can help you become a confident and valuable communicator.

    Unit 2 Time Advisory

    This unit will take you approximately 30 hours to complete.

    ☐    Subunit 2.1: 11 hours

    ☐    Subunit 2.2: 2.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 2.3: 0.5 hours

    ☐    Subunit 2.4: 13 hours

    ☐    Subunit 2.5: 3 hours

    Unit2 Learning Outcomes

    Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

    • demonstrate an understanding of engineering ethics and ethical dilemmas and describe them to others;
    • describe intellectual property and copyright issues in an engineering context; and
    • perform basic oral and written technical communication according to accepted standards in an engineering context.
  • 2.1 Engineering Ethics  

    • Reading: Texas A&M University: Zachry Department of Civil Engineering’s “Ethics”

      Link: Texas A&M University: Zachry Department of Civil Engineering’s “Ethics” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and read all the material in the “Case Studies” and “Essays” sections available on the top bar of this page.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.1.1 ABET Code of Ethics for Engineers  

    • Reading: Wadsworth.com: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology’s “ABET Code of Ethics for Engineers”

      Link: Wadsworth.com: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology’s “ABET Code of Ethics for Engineers” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the entire webpage.  ABET is the national organization that accredits engineering and technology colleges and universities across the nation.  They stipulate that graduates from these programs should be able to exhibit ethical conduct in their field.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.1.2 NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers  

    • Reading: Pennsylvania State University: The National Society of Professional Ethics’ “Code of Ethics for Engineers”

      Link: Pennsylvania State University: The National Society of Professional Ethics’ “Code of Ethics for Engineers” (HTML)
       
      Also available in:

      PDF

      Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the entire webpage.  The National Society of Professional Ethics documents ethical standards for engineers.
       
       Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.1.3 Case Studies in Engineering and Professional Ethics  

    • Reading: Western Washington University: The Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment’s “Ethics Case Studies”

      Link: Western Washington University: The Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment’s “Ethics Case Studies” (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and view the entire video (9:33), which describes how case studies are used in engineering technology to teach ethics.  It is important for you to understand how each decision you make during your engineering career can have future implications.  For example, cutting corners to save the company money may seem like a good idea at the moment, but this decision can have devastating consequences further down the line.  While there is no definitive “right answer” when it comes to ethical matters, you should learn how to take steps that will exhibit your integrity and care for the well-being of the general public.
       
      Terms of Use: This resource has been reposted with the kind permission of Western Washington University and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and may not be reproduced in any capacity without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.

    • Reading: National Academy of Engineering: Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Research's "Air Bags, Safety, and Social Experiments"

      Link: National Academy of Engineering: Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Research's "Air Bags, Safety, and Social Experiments" (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Mechanical engineers are involved in the design of safety systems. From your reading, consider what other sorts of professionals should be involved in automotive safety decisions. How can professionals from diverse backgrounds best collaborate?

      Choose two other case scenarios from this page and repeat the exercise. List specific topics in those scenarios in which mechanical engineers might contribute to the outcome.

      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.
       

  • 2.2 Intellectual Property  

    • Lecture: University of Virginia: Darden School of Business’ “Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyright”

      Link: University of Virginia: Darden School of Business’ “Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyright” (YouTube)
       
      Also available in:
      iTunes U
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and view the entire video (49:21), which covers the various topics relating to patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.   It provides the basic tools to execute the first step of creating a start-up venture.

      Watching this lecture and taking notes should take you approximately one hour to complete.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.3 Making Ethical Decisions in Unusual Situations  

    • Reading: Texas A&M University: Michael Pritchard’s “A Tourist Problem” and “Sunnyvale”

      Links: Texas A&M University: Michael Pritchard’s “A Tourist Problem” and “Sunnyvale” (PDF)

       

      Instructions: Please click on the link above and read both articles in their entirety.  Take some time to consider your answers.  You may refer the ethics page of the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering here for discussion.

       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

    • Web Media: University of Nebraska at Kearny’s “Making Ethical Decisions”

      Link: University of Nebraska at Kearny’s “Making Ethical Decisions” (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and view the entire video (6:17), which covers various topics relating to ethical decision-making in a business environment.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.4 Written Communication  

  • 2.4.1 Resume Writing  

    • Web Media: For Career Success: David Green’s “Proper Way to Write a Resume”

      Link: For Career Success: David Green’s “Proper Way of Writing a Resume” (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and view the entire video (8:31).  It covers what you will need to include in your resume so that you are able to stand above the competition.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.4.2 Project Proposals  

    • Web Media: UpWritePress’ “The Key Forms of Business Writing: Proposals”

      Link: UpWritePress’ “The Key Forms of Business Writing: Proposals” (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and view the entire video (7:54), which covers different forms of proposal writing and the different steps involved in writing an effective proposal.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.4.3 Executive Summaries  

    • Web Media: Jane Challinor’s “Executive Summaries”

      Link: Jane Challinor’s “Executive Summaries” (YouTube)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and view the entire video (3:54), which introduces you to the process of writing executive summaries for longer reports.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.4.4 Progress Reports  

    • Reading: Northern Illinois University’s “Guidelines for Writing a Progress Report”

      Link: Northern Illinois University’s “Guidelines for Writing a Progress Report” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the entire webpage to learn how to write a progress report.  Pay attention to the example progress report included at the end.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.4.5 Letters, Memos, and Emails  

    • Web Media: New Jersey Institute of Technology: James Lipuma’s “Technical Writing: Letters, Memos, Emails”

      Link: New Jersey Institute of Technology: James Lipuma’s “Technical Writing: Letters, Memos, Emails” (YouTube)
       
      Also available in:
      iTunes U
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and view the entire video (15:11), which introduces different forms of technical writing.  It covers the different forms and types of letters and memos.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.4.6 Technical Reports  

    • Reading: Monash University’s “Writing Technical Reports”

      Link: Monash University’s “Writing Technical Reports” (HTML)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and read the entire webpage for an overview of writing technical reports.  Click on each of the links under the heading “Basic Structure of a Report” to read more about each of the components of a report.
       
      Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • 2.5 Oral Communication  

  • 2.5.1 Creating an Effective Power Point  

    • Web Media: VitaminCM.com: Christopher Masiello’s “How to Create Professional PowerPoint Presentations”

      Link: VitaminCM.com: Christopher Masiello’s “How to Create Professional PowerPoint Presentations” (Adobe Flash)
       
      Instructions: Please click on the link above and view the entire video (8:15), in which you will learn how to create an effective PowerPoint presentation, which can be much quicker and easier that you may think.
       
      Terms of Use: This resource has been reposted by the kind permission of Christopher Masiello and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and may not be reproduced in any capacity without the explicit permission of the copyright holder.

  • 2.5.2 Presenting Tactics  

    • Reading: Carnegie Mellon University: Mihai Budiu’s “Some Rules for Making a Presentation”

      Link: Carnegie Mellon University: Mihai Budiu’s “Some Rules for Making a Presentation” (PDF)

      Instructions: Read this document. Make sure to explore the embedded hyperlinks for additional information. This sort of concisely-presented information is easily forgotten if you do not use it on a regular basis. You may wish to bookmark this link for use in the design project portion of this course (final subunit) and in other professional activities.
       
      Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License. It is attributed to Mihai Budiu, and the original version can be found here.

    • Reading: Pennsylvania State University: Joe Schall’s “Oral Presentation and Powerpoint”

      Link: Pennsylvania State University: Joe Schall’s “Oral Presentation and Powerpoint” (PDF)

      Instructions: Read this entire document. This sort of concisely-presented information is easily forgotten if you do not use it on a regular basis. You may wish to bookmark this link for use in the design project portion of this course (final subunit) and in other professional activities.
       
      Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Joe Schall, and the original version can be found here.