ABET Considerations for Senior Thesis

Considerations in Engineering and Design

“Students must be prepared for engineering practice through a curriculum culminating in a major design experience based on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work and incorporating engineering and realistic constraints that include most of the following considerations:  economic, environmental, sustainability, manufacturability, ethical, health and safety, social, and political”.

Economic Issues

All aspects of the design of, and with, materials must be sensitive to the economic drivers associated with the use of the materials

Cost of materials

Cost of the processing

Manufacturing ecology


Be sensitive to hidden costs

Energy costs and sustainability


Intellectual property protection

Life cycle cost


Local, state, or federal regulations

Environmental Issues

Consider the impact of your work on the local and global environment

Origin of raw materials

Use of environmentally hazardous components

Chemical, thermal, noise, particulate pollution; the solution to pollution IS NOT dilution

Disposal of production by-products

Substitution of environmentally benign processes and materials

Use of industrial by-products as raw materials

Energy source:  displaced pollution?

Sensitivity to local, state and federal regulations

Ethics:  if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t!


What good is the new materials, process, or design if no one wants it, can’t afford to build it, or economic/technical issues render it obsolete quickly?

Ask yourself:

Does the material, process, or product service a need?

Is that need sufficiently long term to justify expenditure of resources?

Is the technology sufficiently mature to ensure its success?

Are there issues on the horizon which would alter your approach?


Can you manufacture the materials, product, or implement the process within your technical, economic, environmental, and ethical constraints?

Can you practice the technology in a profitable manner?

Is new enabling technology available, or soon to be available, which may enhance manufacturability or application?

Manufacture domestically or off-shore?

Ethical Issues

Scientists and engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:

Hold paramount the health, safety, and welfare of the public

Perform services only in the area of their competence

Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner

Avoid conflicts of interest and act as faithful agents and trustees for each employer or client

Build professional reputation based on the merit of their services, and avoid unfair competition

Act to uphold and enhance the honor, integrity, and dignity of their profession

Continue professional development throughout their careers, and encourage the same for colleagues under their supervision

Health and Safety

Consider your personal health and safety, and that of your colleagues in all of your actions

Consider the impact of your work on your local and global environment

Consider near term and future implications

Expect the same from your colleagues and supervision

Do all you can to mitigate risk, and accept your responsibilities in all endeavors regardless of level of risk

Social and Political

Important locally and globally

The global economy demands scientists and engineers with agility and skills to work effectively in multicultural environments

Ethical dilemmas can result; your ethics and mores may differe significantly from others

Practice tolerance and sensitivity for the rights and beliefs of others in the performance of your duties

Politics can drive technology, and vice a versa (e.g. Star wars, Homeland security, hydrogen fueled cars)

Code of Hammurabi

“If a builder builds a house for a man and does not make its construction firm, and the house which he has built collapses and causes death of the owner of the house, that builder shall be put to death.

If it causes the death of the son of the owner of the house, they shall put to death the son of that builder.

If it causes the death of a slave of the owner of the house, he shall give to the owner of the house a slave of equal value.

If it destroys property, he shall restore whatever it destroyed, and because he did not make the house which he built firm and it collapsed, he shall rebuild the house which collapsed from his own property.”