College - Author 1

College of Engineering

Department - Author 1

Computer Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Computer Engineering



Primary Advisor

Zoë Wood, College of Engineering, Computer Engineering Department


The importance and impact of socio-technical systems are playing an increasing role in the education of computing students. Discussion of ethics and social responsibility has always been a tenant of computer science education; however, research has shown engineering and computer science students lose focus on these values over their engineering education. Cal Poly computing departments have taken steps to emphasize social responsibility and ethics through required and suggested courses. This project focuses on examining the values and beliefs of Cal Poly computing students, who were surveyed over Winter and Spring Quarters in 2022. This project is inspired by Dr. Cech’s work around disengagement in engineering education and her methods were used in this work to determine if Cal Poly computing students are disengaging from beliefs relating to social welfare and responsibly. The results of the survey of 71 Cal Poly computing students showed that overall Cal Poly students view beliefs relating to ethical and social responsibility as more important than engineering students from past research. Students perceived that the department viewed ethical and social issues as important, as well as their own personal views. It was found that students’ public welfare beliefs were higher farther along in their degree and students who had taken relevant classes also demonstrated higher public welfare beliefs. Demographic analysis did not reveal any relationship when studying students’ more general values outside of the engineering profession. This project demonstrates that the efforts the Cal Poly computing departments took have had a positive impact on student values. This work highlights how an intentional curriculum can have positive effects as well as discussing future areas of improvement.