A Moral Obligation to Society Engineers are professionals and are trusted by society to use their knowledge for the good and betterment of society Engineers must actively watch out for public safety Engineers are to be honest in their dealings.
Ethics the study of moral issues and decisions confronting individuals and organizations involved in engineering the study of related questions about moral conduct, character, ideals and relationships of peoples and organizations involved in technological development Define Ethics as a subject As a practice Ethical is to be honest and conduct one’s self with professional integrity
Development of a Code Growing Boards and Societies became interested in having a creed similar to the Hippocratic Oath of medicine Efforts out of the 1930’s and 40’s developed a creed to define what had long been sensed Officially Adopted in 1954 Soon became clear that brief ceremonial nature of the creed needed a whole lot more explanation for real life Code of Ethics was created 1946 Code was put under the National Society of Professional Engineers Need to have consistent guidance on interpretation led the Society to form Board of Ethical Review 7 member panel that reviews cases and renders decisions
The Engineer’s Creed As a Professional Engineer, I dedicate my professional knowledge and skill to the advancement and betterment of human welfare. I pledge: To give the utmost of performance; To participate in none but honest enterprise; To live and work according to the laws of man and the highest standards of professional conduct; To place service before profit, the honor and standing of the profession before personal advantage, and the public welfare above all other considerations. In humility and with need for Divine Guidance, I make this pledge.
Continuing Development Soon became clear that brief ceremonial nature of the creed needed a whole lot more explanation for real life Code of Ethics was created 1946 Code was put under the National Society of Professional Engineers Need to have consistent guidance on interpretation led the Society to form Board of Ethical Review 7 member panel that reviews cases and renders decisions
Basic Cannon for Being Ethical Engineer Fundamental Canons Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall: Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public. Perform services only in areas of their competence. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees. Avoid deceptive acts. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.
Rules of Practice Further Elaborate What these Things Mean The Cannon Says - Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public. If engineers' judgment is overruled under circumstances that endanger life or property, they shall notify their employer or client and such other authority as may be appropriate. Engineers shall not reveal facts, data, or information without the prior consent of the client or employer except as authorized or required by law or this Code. Engineers having knowledge of any alleged violation of this Code shall report thereon to appropriate professional bodies and, when relevant, also to public authorities, and cooperate with the proper authorities in furnishing such information or assistance as may be required.
The Dilemma Engineers have a duty to both society and their client. Part of the Cannon says - Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees If you do work for a client, making their work public is a violation of trust Some work that you may do will form the information advantage of a business Public release of data could undermine trade secrets, business plans etc. So what do you do if someone is going ahead with something dangerous
Suggestions from the Code You can report the existence of the situation to your employer or client’s superiors Of course if you are freelance and your client is the one doing it this might not work. The code does allow you to report to professional bodies or other authorities as appropriate It also allows you to cooperate with them which could mean giving them data they ask for Have been cases where subject of debate is appropriateness of who was contacted and what was released
An Incident Engineers at a rocket manufacturing firm were concerned about a rocket launch at freezing temperatures O rings on rocket seals were never tested below 50 degrees They were concerned they might not seal They contacted NASA and their employer with the concern The Engineers employer gathered them and chastised them for delays when they really had no data to support what they were saying Engineers were challenged to put up justification or shut up In fact all the engineers had was that they were going to rely on an o ring design that was being used way out of design specification
Managers at NASA launched the Challenger Anyway
Make Sure Projects Are Up to Standard Engineers shall approve only those engineering documents that are in conformity with applicable standards. Certainly related to the idea that you police yourself to make sure you only do work you are trained for (wouldn’t know standards otherwise) Note that these standards could be basic standards of sound design or regulatory You will note other points of the code about honoring the laws of the lands in which you practice.
Holding Up Standards of Honesty As part of First Rule of Practice -Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public. Engineers shall not permit the use of their name or associate in business ventures with any person or firm that they believe is engaged in fraudulent or dishonest enterprise. Prohibition against being part of what sounds like a dirty deal Note too that simply believing it is dishonest is enough you should disqualify yourself. Example of a Mine Manager who left a very lucrative job because he would not certify false financials and designs
Honesty Continued Engineers shall not aid or abet the unlawful practice of engineering by a person or firm. Sometimes engineers may simply be ask to stamp the work of others they did not supervise. Should not help people try and get around registrations laws or practice what they are not trained to do.
The Code Details Professional Obligations and Honesty is one of the most paramount Engineers shall be guided in all their relations by the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Engineers shall acknowledge their errors and shall not distort or alter the facts. As a related obligation the code states Engineers shall accept personal responsibility for their professional activities, provided, however, that engineers may seek indemnification for services arising out of their practice for other than gross negligence, where the engineer's interests cannot otherwise be protected. Engineers shall advise their clients or employers when they believe a project will not be successful. Some projects may be a work gravy-train, milking more money by leading people on is dishonest
Honesty to Your Employer Engineers shall not accept outside employment to the detriment of their regular work or interest. Before accepting any outside engineering employment, they will notify their employers. Outside work can compromise your time May lead to situations in which you compete with your employer or lure clients away from your firm Need to be aware that some contracts contain non-competition clauses that Limit your ownership of client lists Limit other firms you can work for in exactly the same field Engineers shall not attempt to attract an engineer from another employer by false or misleading pretenses. Engineers shall not promote their own interest at the expense of the dignity and integrity of the profession.
Some Case Illustrations ATS was started as a repair and service group at Caterpillar Caterpillar wanted to spin-off some functions that were not considered core business Company transferred clients and business to ATS, provided starter financing, and took a part ownership interest Quite appropriate under engineering code Google hired some top software engineering talent from Microsoft Microsoft sued that non-competition clauses prohibited people from working in same kind of work in competition Some ethical question here although courts let Google proceed
Engineering Ethics Code also contains Prohabitions Engineers shall not disclose, without consent, confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer, or public body on which they serve. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested parties, promote or arrange for new employment or practice in connection with a specific project for which the engineer has gained particular and specialized knowledge. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested parties, participate in or represent an adversary interest in connection with a specific project or proceeding in which the engineer has gained particular specialized knowledge on behalf of a former client or employer. Basically – Taking conflicting employment where your performance is influenced by internal knowledge not just professional ability is dishonest.