Engineering Ethics Research Paper

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Engineering Ethics

Ethics and Morality Related to the Field of Engineering

The purpose of this paper is to define engineering ethics in brief, here the discussion will also be about why successful engineers should be able to inspire trust and confidence in others where their integrity and honesty is concerned. Some references will also be given regarding why college students have to be loyal before they step into the practical world. All of this would be supported by brief examples regarding engineering ethics.

Ethics for engineers

The field of engineering ethics is related to applied ethics as well as the system of moral principles which apply towards the practice of engineering. "The purpose of ethics in engineering is to set up obligations by engineers towards the society, clients and the profession itself " (Schurman, 2003). Many professional societies of engineering have prepared a set of codes of ethics, these codes of ethics tend to identify a general precedence regarding the considerations of an engineer towards its employees, clients, and the profession itself.

"These codes of ethics go way back towards the early twentieth century" (Meskell, 2005). They have also been successfully incorporated to a lesser or greater degree into several jurisdictions. While these general principles tend to serve as a proper guide for the engineers, they themselves still require precise judgment on how to properly interpret the codes that would apply to specific cases. "The different codes of ethics across various different engineering societies as well as chartering authorities are largely similar all across the world" (Macfarlane 2004). Here are some of the codes related to the American Civil Engineering Society.

First, engineers should hold the priority towards the health, welfare and safety of the general public. They should strive in order to comply according to the general principles of sustainable development during their performances at their duties. Second, the engineers should perform their services only at those areas which are of their competence. Third, the engineers should issue any sort of public statement in a very truthful and balanced manner. This should be done so that any sort of confusion related to the duties of the engineers is sorted out and their purpose is well defined.

Fourth, the engineers should act in the matters of each client or employer as trustees or faithful agents and should always avoid any sort of conflicts of interests. Fifth, the engineers should always try to build their reputation on the basis of their overall services and should not compete with others in an unfairly manner. Sixth, the engineers should always act in a manner that upholds or increases the dignity, integrity and honor of the engineering profession as whole and should show zero-tolerance for corruption, fraud and bribery. Seventh, the engineers should strive towards their professional development during their careers, also they should be open towards providing opportunities for others who are ranked lower than them in order to create a healthy and prosperous working environment that benefits not only themselves but the whole profession.

From the above noted principles, it can be easily determined that how the field of engineering can support its practitioners the ethics which would help to inspire trust and confidence in others. "Although there are many colleges who offer courses on ethics alongside their regular engineering curriculum, it is the fundamental duty of the engineer itself to take note of all of these practices seriously so that it serves as a positive example for the rest of its surrounding environment" (Dooley, 1999).

"For any engineer, the greatest merit lies within its work" (McDowell, 2000), any hardworking and dedicated engineer would exercise its profession so that it is committed towards serving the society as well as attending the progress and welfare of the majority. "By successfully transforming the nature for the best interest of mankind, the engineer should increase its overall awareness of the world" (Applbaum, 1999).

In a more ethical regard, they should reject any sort of offers which would cause harm to the interest of any positive beneficiary, here they should avoid any situations which that involves a threat or hazard to the environment, life in general, and health of other humans. "For an engineer, it is a must to keep its institution which it is representing in a positive limelight through its actions" (Shenhav, 1999), they should maintain a positive and professional demeanor which is rooted in the overall ability, temperance, honesty, fortitude, modesty, magnanimity, justice and honesty, with the consciousness of proper well-being towards the social environment.

The engineer should ensure that improvement in their knowledge which is relative to their profession is done alongside disseminating and sharing their experiences, providing opportunities for training and education of workers, provide proper recognition and material as well as moral support to the institutes where the engineer used to study so that others may benefit early on, this also helps in bringing up a positive example for the rest to follow.

The professional engineers are known to commit themselves completely according to the highest standards of conduct, therefore by doing this they tend to increase their work reputation as well as show their overall reliability. It is easy for anyone to become an engineer as compared to the duties and responsibilities that they face in the professional life therefore acting according to the law holds the utmost importance in the career of any engineering professional, this factor tends to separate the personnel with good ethics from the bad ones and therefore is regarded by many as one of the defining criteria that is associated with hiring any engineer for a job.

Engineering disasters

Following are some of the engineering disasters which caused massive damage to the infrastructure as well as the human life that surrounded it. Here the main purpose to highlight them is to notify the source of human error in all of the incidents and how the factor of ethics could have helped in reducing the damage of the disaster.

Chernobyl disaster

Chernobyl nuclear power plant is situated in Ukraine which as formerly part of the Soviet Union, the disaster event is regarded as one of the worst ever nuclear power accidents in human history. The main causes of this were deemed to be design features and human error. On 25th April of 1986, the operators working at Chernobyl began conducting a series of unauthorized experiments, this involved deliberately bypassing the safety systems so that much is learnt about the operations of the plant itself. Due to this, one of the four operating reactors overheated rapidly and its coolant system failed.

The hydrogen formed due to the resulting steam quickly reacted with the reactor's graphite moderator. This caused two big explosions as well as fire. The core of the reactor went through a partial meltdown. The resulting explosions blew up the thousand ton lid of the reactor, due to this the release of radioactive debris occurred high into the atmosphere. According to some estimates, some fifty tons of the fuel of reactor and ten percent of graphite reactor were emitted at the atmosphere. Many calculations were conducted as to how much radioactive material was released in the atmosphere and according to some estimates it was equal to ten atom bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

According to the local government's statistics, there were thirty one initial deaths and more that two hundred and forty felt sick due to severe radiation, some of them died shortly after. More than one hundred and fifty thousand people who resided close to the reactor were relocated. In this entire scenario, it is clearly seen that the main fault does not lie in the technical system of the power plant but was the human error.

If the supervisors or the engineers who were conducting experiments were more cautious regarding their practices then all of this would have been avoided. There were many independent inquiries into the incident which concluded the same result that the main fault was human error and that if the responsible personnel have shown some ethics regarding their actions then all of this would have been avoided.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill

On 20th April 2010, an explosion occurred at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that claimed eleven lives. The worst factor about all of this was the impact on nature this explosion caused. It is estimated that about 4.9 million barrels of oil was released into the sea causing immense damage to the marine life as well as the surrounding land areas. The gushing wellhead was capped after eighty seven days and according to some reports that well still continues to leak.

Although there were many technical faults which caused this accident, the main factor is blamed on engineering faults and how the engineers working at the cite tend to use unreliable and cheap raw materials for usage just for the sake of cutting costs and making more profits. The response towards the crisis was also inadequate and therefore resulted in more losses for all the stakeholders.…[continue]

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