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Engineering Ethics: How to Be an Ethical Engineer

engineering ethics

Are you an ethical engineer?

We all like to think that we act with ethics, high morals, and honestly, but what does engineering ethics actually mean?

Professional codes of ethics exist in all professions and are a set of guidelines for those working in the field, ensuring they act appropriately. But how does this work for engineers?

Keep reading to learn how to be an ethical engineer– and why it’s so important.

Put the Wellbeing of Society Over Personal Gains

As an engineer, the safety and wellbeing of society can be literally on your shoulders. The bridges, buildings, home, and public works built by engineers keep society safe and able to function.

When it comes to engineering ethics, an engineer should always put the wellbeing of others before personal gain or profit.

If an engineer is offered more money to work on a project not being done correctly or is offered bribes to ignore potential hazards or risks, they should always refuse and act with integrity.

Complete All Jobs to the Highest Standard

Ethics in engineering also means to always complete jobs to the highest standard, putting safety and reliability first. An ethical engineer does not take shortcuts to get the job done faster, use inferior materials, or leave a project before it is completed.

Engineering projects require determination, patience, a strong eye for detail, and follow-through.

Over time, engineers are sure to encounter project managers, suppliers, or contractors who want the job done faster or cheaper. However, they shouldn’t waver in their commitment to delivering a quality end result.

Be Truthful

When it comes to engineering and ethics, one of the most important requirements is to always be truthful.

Deal with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders in a professional, honest manner. Although it can be tempting sometimes to embellish or brush over the reality of a situation, such as the timelines or budget of a project, an ethical engineer will always tell the truth— even if it is difficult.

While being honest can be tough, over time, people will come to respect you more as someone they can count on.

Notify Employer of Any Risks

If you see something that looks wrong, you need to say something. Whether in blueprints, project plans, on a job site, or elsewhere, an engineer should notify their employer or co-workers if they come across any risks or dangers within their work.

If you notice a potential problem on a building site and don’t say anything, you risk putting the lives of the building’s occupants in danger. It takes courage to speak up when no one else is doing it, but this is something an ethical engineer must do, out of respect for the health and safety of others.

Engineering Ethics Make the Profession Safer and Stronger

Now that you have a better understanding of engineering ethics, give some thought to your own experiences as an engineer. Do you always act in the most ethical and honest ways?

If not, is there anything you can do to improve how you work?

Engineering is one of the most important careers in society, as our homes, roads, offices, and public buildings couldn’t exist without them. Show your respect for the field by always behaving ethically— it’s the right thing to do.

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