UAS Media Release by UOW

The University of Wollongong’s Faculty of Engineering places a great emphasis on ensuring soft skills are embedded into their undergraduate Engineering courses. Staff responsible for engineering ethics education at UOW, have developed educational approaches which encourage students to consider the complexity of ethical dilemmas they will encounter in the workforce. UOW engineering students are supported in developing engineering ethics skills that have a distinct strength toward intercultural competency. The link between ethics, culture and social responsibility is well developed with some students even graduating from the Faculty with a Social Policy major in Information Technology.

In understanding the tension between Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Drones, students are provided with contextual case studies from which to form personal judgements about the value of different technologies. In essence it is ‘engineering-in-context’ that provides the litmus test for whether or not the application of a technology will be beneficial to society or is likely to cause harm to society. The context for deploying a drone for instance, may be informed by social policies, geo-political processes, and economic systems of state.

Historically, UOW has had researchers who have researched and built first generation UASs for “search and rescue” as far back as 2001. Students are exposed to a variety of scenarios and case studies that show how some risks can be curbed by building in technical limitations to an innovation. In other contexts, regulations and licensing may be entirely absent requiring students to think about how new guidelines might be established for the safe use of UASs in a public airspace.

As complexity continues to rise with highly interconnected systems of a non-homogeneous nature and society’s demands for service growth, the focus on non-technical areas of engineering education are essential. Culture inextricably impacts what is considered to be socially responsible and ethical in everyday life.