Homework on Engineering Ethics Essay
Paper type: Essay
Words: 437, Paragraphs: 13, Pages: 2
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There are several situations in which a code of ethics becomes an important development tool for engineers in resolving moral dilemmas they encounter in the course of their profession.
Engineering as a profession. A code of ethics becomes necessary due to the nature and purpose of engineering as a profession. Different professionals have different concepts of responsibility attached to the nature of their work. By job definition, “an engineer is a knowledge expert specially trained to design, test, and assess the performance characteristics of technologies within his or her realm of expertise” (Pinkus 33).
Hence, an engineer needs not only to be competent in designing technology but must be able to perform sound risk assessment and be adept at identifying the failure characteristics of a given technology. This is because the character of engineering as a profession places public safety above all other goals (Harris, Pritchard, and Rabins 38). Hence, the code of ethics is an important tool for engineers to be reminded that the nature of their profession may compel them to go the extra mile to ensure public safety and welfare.
Conflict in professionalism and bureaucracy. A code of ethics is also important when engineers face conflict with regard to professionalism. An ethical code will greatly help in resolving dilemmas that engineers may encounter such as whether or not an engineer should prioritize the welfare of the client first than the general public when a certain technology or structure becomes a threat to public safety.
Engineers may find themselves in situations when clients do not strictly follow his directions and recommendations and cut costs or improvise that may compromise quality. Such was the case of the Space Shuttle Columbia which was found to be built with low-cost materials because of the lack of federal funding. Schedule issues need to be resolved by the engineer as well and he must evaluate and make decisions on whether the launch of a given technology will have a negative impact on public safety and welfare (Pinkus 16).
Corporate responsibility. Another reason why code of ethic becomes a significant development tool for engineers is the demand for decisions regarding corporate responsibility. As technology requires the extraction and utilization of greater quantities of natural resources, corporations now face the responsibility of ensuring that their operations conform strictly to environmental laws (Harris, Pritchard, and Rabins 34).
Harris, Charles E., Pritchard, Michael S., and Rabins, Michael J. Engineering Ethics: concepts and cases. New York: Cengage Learning, 2005.
Pinkus, Rosa Lynn B. Engineering ethics: balancing cost, schedule, and risk – lessons learned from the space shuttle. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1997.