0203.pdf - International Conference on Engineering...

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International Conference on Engineering Education and Research "Progress Through Partnership" © 2004 VSB-TUO, Ostrava, ISSN 1562-3580 203 Ethical Issues Facing Engineers and their Profession Jesa KREINER Albert FLORES Sundaram KRISHNAMURTHY California State University, Fullerton, California KEYWORDS: ethics, engineering, codes, case studies ABSTRACT: Frequently, and in many different countries, the engineering professionals are criticized for a number of occurrences that took place and which adversely affected people or the environment. Everything that engineers do affects the society and its development and, occasionally, the consequences of these actions are not fully thought out, not anticipated, or not fully understood, but the results are undesirable just the same. In order to meet the challenges of the time engineers must be properly prepared to face the moral, legal and ethical ramifications of their actions. Thus, to meet their responsibilities to society at large and the global community, engineers must be equipped with the knowledge and ability to fully and cogently explain their actions as well as the methods to be used to implement their decisions. This is particularly important in presenting the engineering alternatives that are considered so that informed conclusions can be drawn and appropriate decisions drawn involving different segments of the society. Educating young engineers about to enter the practice of their chosen profession how to help arrive to the compromises to be implemented becomes one of the paramount items of contemporary engineering education. Case studies detailing occurrences and accidents that took place, explanations of recalls implemented by major manufacturers or evolving legislation engendered by events that triggered introduction of these, are examined in detail in preparing engineers to face this contemporary challenge. Ethical theories are presented as are codes of ethics that different professional societies developed and which provide the structure for this paradigm of professional practice. Solving conflict of interest problems that are encountered in practice help explain the approaches to risk, safety and reduction of accidents. 1 INTRODUCTION We celebrate the engineering profession because of the great good that it can produce in solving a myriad of pressing problems affecting the happiness and well-being of society. The technological advances which engineers have contributed to generating advances that have significantly improved our quality of life in ways so numerous that we cannot imagine the modern world without them. Engineering is the profession that provides the technical solutions necessary for contributing to a better and more efficient world. It takes what we know and applies it to solving society’s problems. And while the education of engineers focuses almost exclusively on developing the technical capacities of aspiring engineers for solving a host of technical problems facing society, it has not also sufficiently advanced the moral character of those who call themselves “Engineers.” In this paper we wish to call attention to the
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