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Engineering Ethics Professional Responsibilities or “Doing the Right Thing”
  • Engineering Ethics

    Professional Responsibilities or

    “Doing the Right Thing”

  • Important Attributes of an Engineer

    • Character: – Honesty & Integrity

    • (virtues) – Responsibility

    • (reliability)

    • Skills & Knowledge: – Technical knowledge – Analytical skills – Computation skills – Communication skills

    Related to personal and engineering ethics.

  • Ethics in ABET Learning Outcomes Engineering and Technology programs must demonstrate that their graduates have: a. an ability to select and apply the knowledge, techniques, skills, and modern tools of the

    discipline ….: b. b. an ability to select and apply a knowledge of mathematics, science, engineering, and

    technology to engineering technology problems…: c. c. an ability to conduct standard tests and measurements; to conduct, analyze, and interpret

    experiments….; d. d. an ability to design systems, components, or processes …; e. e. an ability to function effectively as part of a team; f. f. an ability to identify, analyze, and solve broadly-defined engineering technology

    problems; g. g. an ability to apply written, oral, and graphical communication ….; h. h. an understanding of the need for and an ability to engage in self-directed continuing

    professional development; i. i. an understanding of and a commitment to address professional and ethical responsibilities

    including a respect for diversity; j. j a knowledge of the impact of engineering technology solutions in a societal and global

    context; and k. k. a commitment to quality, timeliness and continuous improvement.

  • What is Ethics?

  • Personal Ethics - Everyday Examples

    • Software piracy • Expense account padding • Copying of homework or tests • Income taxes • “Borrowing” nuts and bolts, office supplies

    from employer • Copying of Videos or CD’s • Plagiarism • Using the copy machine at work

  • The Three Basic Questions

    • Am I comfortable with full disclosure of my actions to colleagues, friends, family employer and public? – including the facts no one but I know

    • If everyone knew the details of what I did or am about to do, if were to appear in the newspaper, would I still do the same thing?

    • Is it fair to all parties?

  • Defining Ethics

    • Ethics (from ancient Greece) – from the Greek word Éthos which means “the

    persuasive appeal of one’s character”

    – the keyword here is character

  • Defining Ethics

    • Ethics (from Merriam-Webster) – the discipline dealing with what is good and

    bad and with moral duty and – a set of moral principles or values

    – a theory or system of moral values

    – the principles of conduct governing an

    individual or a group (e.g., professional ethics)

  • Defining Ethics

    • Ethical (from Merriam-Webster) – of or relating to ethics

    – involving or expressing moral approval or


    – conforming to accepted professional standards of conduct

  • What are Moral Values? What is Morality?

    • Moral – of or relating to principles of right and wrong in

    behavior, good and bad behavior • Morality

    – a doctrine or system of moral conduct – particular moral principles or rules of conduct – conformity to ideals of right human conduct

    Ultimately, morality is about reasons centered in respect for other people as well as ourselves, reasons that involve their good as well as our own.

  • Working Definitions

    • Ethics – the rules and ideals for human behavior – they tell us what we ought to do

    • Engineering Ethics – the rules and ideals of the engineering profession – they tell us what we ought to do on the job

  • Meaning of Our Definitions So, what do we mean by Ethics? • A body of moral principles • A set of rules and behaviors • Standards and guidelines • Socially approved conduct • Respect for people and rights • Distinguished from matters of legality

  • Engineering Codes of Ethics • Who decides

    – standards adopted by professional community and established companies

    – NSPE, ABET, ASME, ASCE, ACM, IEEE, etc. – may conflict with personal ethics

    • Case studies – used to set standards – provide real-world examples

  • Social Contract Service

    – Promoting well being of general public – Ensuring competence of professionals


    – Create and enforce high standards – Autonomy of the profession

  • Developing a Well-Reasoned Response to a Moral Dilemma

    • Moral dilemmas are situations in which two or more moral obligations, duties, rights, goods, or ideals come into conflict with one another.

    • How does one decide whether a response is well-reasoned? – What criteria apply? – Can we reliably judge?

  • List of Typical Engineering Ethics Issues Involving Conflicts of Obligation

    1. conflict of interest 2. public safety and welfare 3. integrity of data and representation of it 4. whistle-blowing 5. choice of a job 6. accountability to clients and customers 7. plagiarism 8. trade secrets and industrial espionage 9. gift giving and bribes 10. fair treatment

  • Developing a Well-Reasoned Response to a Moral Dilemma

    1. Gather facts 2. Define ethical issues 3. Identify all affected parties 4. Identify consequences (positive and negative) 5. Identify obligations, duties, & rights

    • Reference codes of ethics 6. Consider personal character, integrity, & virtues 7. Check your gut 8. Creatively decide on the proper ethical action

  • 1. Whether the response addresses each of the issues and points of ethical conflict

    2. Whether each interested party’s legitimate expectations are considered

    3. Whether the consequences of acting for each party are recognized and incorporated into the decision

    4. Whether each of the duties or obligations of the participants are described and based on moral considerations

    Responses can be judged on these criteria:

    Developing a Well-Reasoned Response to a Moral Dilemma

  • Why should engineers have

    a code of ethics?

  • The public holds

    engineers in high regard

  • Herbert Hoover (on engineering) • “The great liability of the engineer compared to

    men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers… He cannot, like the politician, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents and hope that the people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny that he did it. If his works do not work, he is damned forever.”

    31st President 1929-1933

    Mining Engineer

  • Engineering Codes of Ethics

    • Most professional organizations have addressed the complexity of moral issues in their fields by developing codes of ethics

    • Professional codes of ethics consist primarily of principles of responsibility that delineate how to promote the public good.

  • Engineering Codes of Ethics

    • Engineering ethics principles – Protect the public safety, health, and welfare. – Perform duties only in area of competence. – Be truthful and objective. – Behave in an honorable and dignified manner. – Continue learning to sharpen technical skill. – Provide honest hard work to employer or client. – Inform the proper authorities of harmful,

    dangerous, or illegal actives.

  • Engineering Codes of Ethics

    • Engineering ethics principles (continued) – Be involved with civic and community affairs. – Protect the environment (not all codes). – Do not accept bribes, or gifts that would

    interfere with engineering judgment. – Protect confidential information of employer or

    client. – Avoid conflicts of interest.

  • Roles of Codes

    • Shared Standards

    • Positive Support to Act Ethically

    • Guidance Concerning Obligations

    • Motivation to do the right thing

    • Education to help with making hard decisions

    • Deterrence and Discipline

    • Maintenance of Professional Image

  • Ethical Aspects of Engineering Practice to the Public: • Public Safety and Welfare • Expert Information on Public Issues: Whistle-blowing Volunteering

    to the Client: • Disclosure of Design Errors • Confidentiality • Adherence to Codes • Monitoring of Sub-Contractors

    to the Profession: • Recruiting/Service the Public Institutions for the

    public good • Participation in Professional Societies

    Conflict of Interest: • Occurs whenever an engineer is in a position to

    make a decision that can result in his/her personal gain.

    • Disclosure of Potential Conflict of Interest • Competition with Former Employer • Employers Related Private Consultation After

    Public Employment

    Fair Trade Practices: • Intellectual Property Rights • Criticism of Competitors Competence • Inflated Claims in Advertising • Shared Credit • Maintaining Professional Standards • Letters of Recommendation • Signing off on Drawings

  • Why should you follow a code of


  • The Reality Is …

    • You will be faced will ethical dilemmas • They will have serious consequences, either now

    or in the future • If you do the right thing it may go unnoticed,

    but… • If you don’t, your job/career/company/family may

    be hurt, along with innocent customers, users, or other people

  • 1. Who will be affected by my decision?

    2. What general rules or principles underlie my decision? Are you handling similar matters consistently?

    3. What are the implications of my decision for the University, Company and the public?

    4. What does my decision say about my values? (We all know people who say one thing & do another.)

    5. One can be unethical without breaking the law.

    6. What is right, what is fair and what is in your best interest may not be the same. Put your bias aside.

    Ethical Decision Making

  • Cell Phone Break One minute text message break

  • A Code of Engineering

    Ethics aids you in your quest to

    be ethical in your profession.

  • Engineering Codes of Ethics Different disciplines have their own variants of Engineering Codes of Ethics that are similar but not identical across the entire profession. • National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) • Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) • IEEE code of ethics (IEEE) • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

  • Similarities in Structure Codes follow the same basic format: • Preamble: An opening summary laying out

    how to be ethical in the profession • Fundamental Canons: Basic precepts from

    which the Code is derived • Principles or Obligations of Professional

    Practice: Specific standards defining individual rules for more typcial situations.

  • IEEE Code of Ethics

    • Introduction and items 1 through 5

  • IEEE Code of Ethics

    • Introduction (repeated) and items 6 through 10


  • ACM Code of Ethics • Preamble (excerpts)

  • ACM Code of Ethics • General Moral Imperatives

  • ACM Code of Ethics • More Specific Professional Responsibilities

  • ACM Code of Ethics • Organizational Leadership Imperatives

  • ACM Code of Ethics • Compliance with the Code


  • ASME Code of Ethics • Fundamental Principles

  • ASME Code of Ethics

    • Fundamental Canons

  • • Responsibility and Revisions ASME Code of Ethics


  • ASCE Code of Ethics

    • Fundamental Principles

  • ASCE Code of Ethics

    • Fundamental Canons

  • ASCE Code of Ethics

    • Guidelines to Practice


  • NSPE Code of Ethics

    • Preamble

  • NSPE Code of Ethics

    • Fundamental Canons

  • NSPE Code of Ethics

    • Rules of Practice

  • NSPE Code of Ethics • Professional Obligations

  • NSPE Code of Ethics • Professional Obligations (continued)


  • Remember

    • You are professional • You are a member of a profession that has

    many worthy accomplishments and has the perception of being honest and ethical

    • You and others in your profession can do much to help to improve the quality of life

  • Order of the Engineer


    • Initiated to foster a spirit of pride and responsibility in the engineering profession

    • First ceremony was held on June 4, 1970 at Cleveland State University

    • The Obligation of the Order of the Engineer is similar to the Canadian “Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer” initiated there in 1926.

    • It uses a wrought iron ring and administers an oath written by Rudyard Kipling.


  • Order of the Engineer • Open to all engineers and engineering technology grads • Available to UT grads in their last semester in a special

    ceremony in the last weeks of term. • Responsibilities and obligations of an engineer

    – service to the public – all members of the engineering profession share a common

    bond • “The Ring Ceremony”

    – a stainless steel ring is received, to be worn as a symbol on the fifth finger of the working hand

    – look for it on some faculty

  • Obligation I am an Engineer, in my profession I take deep pride. To it I owe solemn obligations. Since the Stone Age, human progress has been spurred by the engineering genius. Engineers have made usable Nature’s vast resources of material and energy for Humanity's [Mankind’s] benefit. Engineers have vitalized and turned to practical use the principles of science and the means of technology. Were it not for this heritage of accumulated experience, my efforts would be feeble.

    Order of the Engineer

  • Obligation (continued)

    As an Engineer, I pledge to practice integrity and fair dealing, tolerance and respect, and to uphold devotion to the standards and the dignity of my profession, conscious always that my skill carries with it the obligation to serve humanity by making the best use of Earth’s precious wealth.

    As an Engineer, I shall participate in none but honest enterprises. When needed, my skill and knowledge shall be given without reservation for the public good. In the performance of duty and in fidelity to my profession, I shall give the utmost.

    Order of the Engineer

  • Case Studies

    • Case studies help us learn how to apply the code of ethics

    • Allows us to see others’ real world dilemmas and mistakes of application

    • Fosters discussion of possible solutions and pinpoints specific code breaches

  • Discussion: Case #1 Neo was named the project manager of a large new chemical processing unit to be designed and constructed for his company. During the work, Neo suggested to the contractor an alteration to the design that improved safety and cut construction costs. After Neo’s suggestion had been successfully implemented, the contractor offered Neo a very nice fishing trip to the Rockies. Should Neo accept the fishing trip? Adapted from Texas A&M Civil Engineering Ethics Center Case Study

  • Discussion: Case #2 Engineer Aardvark, on behalf of his firm, submitted a statement of qualifications for a project. He was notified that his firm was on the "short list" for consideration, but it was indicated to him that his firm did not appear to have qualifications in some special aspects of the project requirements, and that it might be advisable for his firm to consider a joint venture with another firm with such capabilities.

  • Discussion: Case #2 Engineer Aardvark contacted Engineer Bonkers, a principal of a firm with the background required for the specialized requirements, and inquired if the Bonkers firm would be interested in a joint venture if Aardvark was awarded the job. The Bonkers firm agreed.

  • Discussion: Case #2 Soon after, Engineer Bonkers was contacted by Engineer Crapo, a principal in another firm which was also on the "short list," which also made the same request for a joint venture for specialized services. Crapo asked if the Bonkers firm would be willing to engage in a joint venture if the Crapo firm was selected for the assignment. What should Bonkers do? Adapted from NSPE BER Case No. 80-4

  • Engineering Ethics

    Doing the right thing to uphold and enhance the honor of the profession!

    Engineering EthicsImportant Attributes of an EngineerEthics in ABET Learning OutcomesWhat is Ethics?Personal Ethics - Everyday ExamplesThe Three Basic QuestionsDefining EthicsDefining EthicsDefining EthicsWhat are Moral Values? What is Morality?Working DefinitionsMeaning of Our DefinitionsEngineering Codes of EthicsSocial ContractDeveloping a Well-Reasoned Response to a Moral DilemmaList of Typical Engineering Ethics Issues Involving Conflicts of ObligationDeveloping a Well-Reasoned Response to a Moral DilemmaDeveloping a Well-Reasoned Response to a Moral DilemmaWhy should engineers have a code of ethics?The public holds engineers in high regardHerbert Hoover (on engineering)Engineering Codes of EthicsEngineering Codes of EthicsEngineering Codes of EthicsRoles of CodesEthical Aspects of Engineering PracticeWhy should you follow a code of ethics?The Reality Is …Ethical Decision MakingCell Phone Break A Code of Engineering Ethics aids you in your quest to be ethical in your profession. Engineering Codes of EthicsSimilarities in Structure IEEE Code of EthicsIEEE Code of EthicsACM Code of EthicsACM Code of EthicsACM Code of EthicsACM Code of EthicsACM Code of EthicsASME Code of EthicsASME Code of EthicsASME Code of EthicsASCE Code of EthicsASCE Code of EthicsASCE Code of EthicsNSPE Code of EthicsNSPE Code of EthicsNSPE Code of EthicsNSPE Code of EthicsNSPE Code of EthicsRememberOrder of the EngineerOrder of the EngineerSlide Number 55Slide Number 56Case StudiesDiscussion: Case #1Discussion: Case #2Discussion: Case #2Discussion: Case #2Engineering Ethics