How Much Math Do Structural Engineers Use In Their Career Ethical Engineering Practices

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Ethical Engineering Practices

Engineering jobs are not always just engineering. Engineering roles traditionally focused on building something using different variations of math and science. These jobs have recently transformed by combining more business functions. In John Hooker’s white paper, he states, “Engineers are increasingly involved in start-up companies where they make business decisions as well as engineering decisions.” Cross-functional teams include members from engineering, sales, manufacturing, marketing, and warranty. Many engineers today have multiple hats to wear and are even labeled as “project” engineers. Wikipedia defines project engineering as “bridging the boundaries between engineering and project management.” As the role of the engineering field has changed over the years, engineers are faced with more and more ethical choices and decisions. Engineers must create designs and serve customers in an ethical manner.

There are many different professional societies that engineers join. Some of these societies include, but are not limited to, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Project Management Institute (PMI), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). Each of these organizations has a similar code of ethics for its members.

A sample code of ethics from the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE):

“Engineers, in fulfilling their professional duties, must:

1-Reward the safety, health and well-being of the public.

2-Perform services only in the areas of their competence.

3-Issue public statements only objectively and truthfully.

4-Act for each employer or client as loyal agents or trustees.

5-Avoid deceptive acts.

6-Behave in an honorable, responsible, ethical and legal way to improve the honor, reputation and usefulness of the profession”.

Once a person joins one of these societies, they take an oath to uphold the code. Members must take the code seriously for the professional to engage with their employer, clients, vendors or the general public.

Another ethical engineering practice is to perform tests according to the standards applicable to the designed product or service. Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the European Commission (EC) are all standards agencies that provide product safety standards to consumers. Products must be successfully tested to current standards in order to apply the agency mark to the product. Engineers must conduct tests honestly and ethically. Documentation of test data should be recorded so that it can be reviewed years later if necessary. Test data must be honest, accurate and not falsified or altered. Recording failed test data is just as important as successful test data. Test data can be used in a court of law if someone is injured or killed by a product that has an agency label. Accurate and comprehensive data are essential to a strong case.

Other ethical principles that an engineer may face are related to conduct. An engineer must maintain a professional work ethic and abide by the code of ethics. A seller or customer should not be bribed or misled into receiving anything of monetary value. Test data and other information, such as patent ideas or any other intellectual property, must be kept confidential. Customers must be able to trust the engineer or engineering service.

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