Engineering Ethics: A Critical Dimension of The Profession

Nael Barakat

Abstract


Engineering has always had a massive impact on human health and welfare.  Unfortunately, the public only realizes the magnitude of this impact when very few engineering disasters occur, like huge oil spells in the sea or the failure of an aero-plane or a building.  This is in spite of the plethora of engineering systems working perfectly around the clock to enhance every miniature aspect of public health and welfare. 

The ethical dimension of the engineering profession deals with the interaction with the public.  However, engineering ethics are critical for reasons beyond keeping out of legal trouble and guarding the health and safety of humans. Ethics are necessary for the survival and continuity of the profession itself, amongst other reasons.  Therefore, engineering codes of ethics have been set by professional societies and engineering ethics have been emphasized by accreditation organizations to be an integral part of the engineering curricula.  In addition, ethics is the framework that allows the handling of evolving issues related to the profession of engineering.  Examples of these issues include the globalization of the practice, continuous professional development (CPD) of the practitioners, and issues of emerging technologies (e.g. nanotechnology). 

In the midst of this huge dimension, the engineering instructor is challenged to incorporate engineering ethics in a packed curriculum.  This paper will provide a quick overview of the basic concepts and definitions of engineering ethics as well as the importance of studying engineering ethics.  Some recent engineering ethics challenges will be listed with focus on globalization, its influence on the professional and ethical side of the profession, and the perspective of the educator.  Moreover, some suggested strategies and best practices to integrate engineering ethics in the curriculum will be discussed.

Keywords


Engineering Ethics, professional engineering, Engineering ethics education, workforce development

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International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy (iJEP) – eISSN: 2192-4880
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