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  1. Engineered systems are designed to serve societal needs, from bridges providing mobility to communication systems enabling the transfer of information. It is essential that engineers recognize the social impact of their work to ensure they provide equitable benefits across communities when implementing such systems. In times of crisis, such as after natural disasters, these ethical considerations and awareness of community needs are especially important. Ethical development must begin when engineers are still students so that they can be trained to consider ethical issues before they begin working. Ethical development can be observed using James Rest’s Four-Component Model of Morality: moral sensitivity, moral judgement, moral motivation, and moral behavior. Previous work has focused largely on the second stage, moral judgement, which describes the ability to determine which action is morally right when confronted with an ethical issue. Here, however, we focus on the first stage, moral sensitivity, emphasizing one’s ability to recognize a moral issue. Studies show that while moral sensitivity does not always lead to moral behavior; moral sensitivity can help explain variances in moral behavior. Researchers argue that pinpointing students’ gaps in moral sensitivity can help educators identify gaps in engineering ethics curriculum. Towards this goal, we interviewed undergraduate engineering students to evaluate their moral sensitivity, using a current event, the 2021 Hurricane Ida in Southern Louisiana, as background. This natural disaster provided a useful context to evaluate moral sensitivity due to the complex effects of such a crisis on engineered, natural, and social systems. The story is framed using Lind’s Indicators of Ethical Sensitivity, providing the story characteristics, stakeholders, and consequences. We asked interviewees to provide the final indicator—ethical issues. Using a qualitative content analysis, we found that interviewees connected several ethical issues with the primary consequence of socioeconomic inequities. Identified ethical issues included topics of climate change, infrastructure, disaster planning, and corporate/government accountability. Implications of this study include recommendations for future moral sensitivity research and applications to improve classroom learning. 
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  2. Engineering education typically focuses on technical knowledge rather than ethical development. When ethics are incorporated into curriculum, the focus is usually on microethics concerning issues that arise in particular contexts and interactions between individuals, rather than macroethics that address broad societal concerns. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a unique opportunity to assess macroethical understanding because unjust social, economic, and environmental systems have been brought to the forefront of the response. In this study, we aim to understand students’ awareness of unjust systems and the ethical responsibilities of engineers. At the beginning of the pandemic in the United States, in April 2020, we deployed a survey to undergraduate engineering students at two universities. We asked students to explain what they perceived to be the role of the engineering profession in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. This paper focuses on the responses of undergraduate civil engineering students, totaling a sample size of 84 students across two universities. We used qualitative analyses (deductive and inductive coding) to categorize responses between “macroethics is present” and “macroethics is not present”, and we used quantitative analysis to test the two categories with sociodemographic factors for association. We show that there are statistically significant differences across student responses given certain sociodemographic factors. Responses from women focused more on macroethics as compared to responses from men. There was also a difference in responses between the universities surveyed, showing that institutional differences may impact students’ macroethical development. Potential implications from this study include recommendations on curricular content and identifying which student demographic groups would benefit most from intentional macroethical content in coursework. Additionally, increasing diversity and representation of women in engineering may impact the engineering industry’s focus on macroethics. 
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  3. Ethics is and should be intrinsic to engineering. However, many engineering students do not recognize that every engineering decision contains ethical dimensions and that underlying values and current sociopolitical and cultural contexts can influence those decisions. One potential way to enhance engineering students’ ethical development is through extra-curricular activities (ECAs). ECAs can include many topics and interests, such as student societies (e.g., fraternities and sororities) and cultural and social organizations (e.g., Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Latinos in Science and Engineering, Society of Women Engineers). Previous studies emphasize that participation in student organizations plays an important role in the ethical development of students. Despite this important role, it is not clear whether some student organizations are more successful at enhancing ethical development of engineering students than others, or if it is the act of participation in these organizations itself has an effect on students’ ethical development. We hypothesize that the more organizations students participate in, the higher their ethical development will be. As such, we ask, does participation in more organizations enhances students’ overall moral development? To respond to this question, we distributed a survey to senior engineering students (n=165) at one Midwestern university in the spring of 2020. The survey captured demographics information, membership in student organizations, and the standardized Defining Issue Test-2 (DIT-2), which measures students’ ethical developmental indices (Personal Interest, Maintaining Norms, Post-conventional Thinking Score, and N2Score). The preliminary results suggest that there are significant differences between the groups of students who participated in one organization and two organizations as well as between one organization and three or more organizations, with the largest difference between those who participated in one organization and those who participated in three or more organizations. This suggests that it is possible that students with low PI scores become involved in more student organizations. This project studies student organizations as key sites for ethical learning. The research suggests that students should be encouraged to participate in more student organizations in order to promote their overall ethical development. 
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