Introduction to Engineering Ethics

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Introduction to
Engineering Ethics
MAE 3040 – Dr. Julie Albertson
Meet Your Instructor
From Spokane Washington
PhD in Mechanical Engineering from
Washington State University
At UCCS full time since 2005
Currently live in Florissant
Spend large quantities of time on my 95
retirement acres north of Palmer Lake
COMPLETELY at the mercy of my dogs, Sage
and Shilah
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Why Teach Engineering Ethics?
BS in Mechanical
Engineering
Technical Education
Ethics &
Morality
Preparation
PREPARATION
Workplace
Dilemmas
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Technical
Choices
Personal
Conflicts
Define Ethics, Engineering
Ethics, & Morality
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An Engineer’s Responsibilities
Family,
Upbringing,
Personal
Values &
Ethics
Firm:
Engineers,
Managers,
Colleagues
Industry, Other
Firms
Global Environment,
Society, & Nature
Engineering
Profession
Law, Government,
Public Agencies
Clients or
Consumers
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Engineering: Managing the Unknown
 Consistently lack knowledge about problems and designs
 Engineering Design = creating NEW products and
processes
 Questions Questions Questions
 How will it be used?
 How well does it work?
 How well does it need to work?
 Will it affect people? In a beneficial way?
 Can it be misused? What happens if it breaks?
 Is it safe? Do we have to deal with all safety concerns?
 You will never be absolutely certain as an engineer.
Rather, you must be as prepared as possible when limited
by time, resources, and funding.
 You must see into the future and understand the
consequences of your work
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We Each Bring Something Different
to the Table
Objectivity
People
Skills
History
Emotion
Culture
Background
Upbringing
Expertise
Experience
Problem
Solving
Skills
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Consider One Example Close
to Home – The Hanford
Green Run
Overview of the Green Run
o Late 1940’s – Hanford Site Center of
Plutonium Production
o Iodine 131 – Byproduct of Plutonium
Production
o Air Force needed to test viability of new
radiation monitoring system
o Dec 2nd & 3rd 1949 “The Green Run”
o Not disclosed until 1986
From a George Washington University Analysis
(http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/radiation/dir/mstreet/commeet/meet8/b
rief8/tab_h/br8h7.txt)
… In the Green Run, the value of national security seems to have trumped
other ethical concerns. In addition, if today's environmental regulations were
in place in 1949 they could have been circumvented by the executive branch.
We can ask whether the Green Run should have happened, but perhaps more
importantly, we should ask whether current regulations provide sufficient
protection against analogous cases in the future
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Professional Codes of
Ethics
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What Defines a Professional?
 Advanced Expertise – skills and knowledge
 Formal Education – not just practical training
and/or apprenticeship
 Self-Regulation – setting standards, drafting codes
of ethics, enforcing these
 Representing Profession before the public and
government
 Public Good – occupation serves some aspect of
public good.
Consider how this defines Mechanical Engineering
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Fundamental
requirement is for
engineers to provide
faithful, honest,
professional service
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Codes of Ethics
 Guide conduct and decision making of engineers
 Similar between societies
 What’s a society? Check out the
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Your Turn:
Professional
Codes PowerPoint
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National Society of Professional
Engineers
Engineers' Creed
As a Professional Engineer, I dedicate my professional knowledge
and skill to the advancement and betterment of human welfare.
I pledge:
 To give the utmost of performance;
 To participate in none but honest enterprise;
 To live and work according to the laws of man and the highest
standards of professional conduct;
 To place service before profit, the honor and standing of the
profession before personal advantage, and the public welfare
above all other considerations.
In humility and with need for Divine Guidance, I make this pledge.
Adopted by National Society of Professional Engineers, June 1954
Source: http://www.nspe.org/Ethics/CodeofEthics/Creed/creed.html
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