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Engineering Ethics - Weber State University

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Engineering Ethics
Ethics: The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession.(American Heritage Dictionary)
Attributes of a Profession
Involveswork requiring sophisticated skill, judgment and discretion.Membership requires extensive formal education rather than work experience or apprenticeships.Members set standards of admission, conduct, and quality –– and enforce these standards.
Some Professional Organizations and Societies with Codes of Ethics
ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)NSPE (National Society of Professional Engineers)IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers)ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)ASCE(American Society of CivilEngineers)SME (society of manufacturingengineers)
ABET Code of Ethics ofEngineers
THEFUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLESEngineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor and dignity of the engineering profession by:usingtheir knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare;beinghonest and impartial, and serving with fidelity the public, their employers and clients;strivingto increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession; andsupportingthe professional and technical societies of their disciplines.
ABET Code of Ethics ofEngineers
THE FUNDAMENTAL CANONS1. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public in theperformance oftheir professional duties.2. Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence.3. Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objectiveandtruthful manner.4. Engineers shall act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agentsor trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest.
ABET Code of Ethics ofEngineers
THE FUNDAMENTAL CANONS5. Engineers shall build their professional reputation on the merit of their services and shallnot competeunfairly with others.6. Engineers shall act in such a manner as to uphold and enhance the honor, integrity anddignity ofthe profession.7. Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout their careers andshall provideopportunities for the professional development of those engineers undertheir supervision.
IEEE Code of Ethics
We, the members of the IEEE, in recognition of the importance of our technologies in affectingthe qualityof life throughout the world, and in accepting a personal obligation to our profession, itsmembers andthe communities we serve, do hereby commit ourselves to the highest ethical andprofessional conductand agree:1. to accept responsibility in making engineering decisions consistent with the safety, health andwelfare ofthe public, and to disclose promptly factors that might endanger the public or the environment;
IEEE Code of Ethics
2. to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest whenever possible, and todisclosethem toaffected partieswhen they do exist;3. to be honest and realistic in stating claims or estimates based on available data;4. to reject bribery in all its forms;5. to improve the understanding of technology, its appropriate application, andpotential consequences;6. to maintain and improve our technical competence and to undertake technological tasks forothers onlyif qualified by training or experience, or after full disclosure of pertinent limitations;
IEEE Code of Ethics
7. to seek, accept, and offerhonestcriticism of technical work, to acknowledge and correct errors, andto creditproperly the contributions of others;8. to treat fairly all persons regardless of such factors as race, religion, gender, disability, age, ornational origin;9. to avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or employment by false or malicious action;10. to assist colleagues andco-workersin their professional development and to support themin followingthis code of ethics.
Ethical, Moral and Legal
Ethical: Conforming to accepted standards of conduct, usually of an organization or profession.Moral: relating to right and wrong; consideredright and good by mostpeople.Legal: permitted by law.
Where there is a conflict between an ethical and legal decision, the ethical decision should always prevail.
7 Steps to Ethical Decision Making
Recognize the problemExample: Is there a conflict of interest or are we misrepresenting our capabilities?Check the factsVerify information. It may be the problem is more perceived than real.Identify relevant factorsWhat policy, professional code or law applies? Are there practical considerations?List the options
7 Stepsto Ethical Decision Making
Analyzetheoptions-Utility: does one option provide more “utility” to people, that is to say more benefit and less harm?-Rights: which option(s), if any, violate a person’s rights?-Reversibility: would an option be good if I were the one adversely affected by it?-Defensibility: which option(s) could I defend in court, in congress or before my profession’s ethics committee?-Publicity: Would any option be perceived as dishonest or unethical if publicized?
7 Stepsto Ethical Decision Making
Makeachoice- In some cases there is no clear option. You have to use your best judgment.Reconsider Policy- Try to structure your [organization’s] policies and procedures to avoid this kind of conflict in the future.
Scenario #1
You have found employment at a good company, and you like your colleagues. One day your supervisor announces that your team needs to recommend a voltage regulator circuit for an upcoming product and the design freeze is in one week. At your company, linear regulators are well known and tested, but at school you used a switching regulator that costs about the same but is far more efficient. Problem is that it would take a month of analysis to know if the noise from the switching regulator is within acceptable limits. Your supervisor asks you to write the recommendation and leave out any mention of the switching regulator. What do you do?
Scenario #2
Your company is considering two off-road vehicle designs, one with three wheels and one with four. Research has shown that the four-wheeled vehicle is significantly more stable, but both meet safety standards and either could be sold without legal ramifications. The three-wheeled vehicle would be easier to design and cheaper to produce. The lower price would result in substantially more sales and a higher profit margin. Is it ethically acceptable to recommend the three-wheeled version in spite of its greater potential for safety risks?
Scenario #3
An automotive safety device has been patented by another company, buttheir licensing fees are so high that using it in yourcompany’sautomotive product willsignificantly increase the price to theconsumer (and decrease sales). Youare asked to examine the patentand design a similar device thatdoes the same thing but does not technicallyinfringe. You read the patent and find a loophole that makes such a design possible. You run your idea past the patent attorney who says that he can get a patent issued but it will probably not hold up in court. He encourages you to patent the design anyway so the company will have leverage negotiating for lower licensing fees. What do you do?

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Engineering Ethics - Weber State University