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Ethics of Engineering - Essay Example

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In addition to their duty to be responsible members of society and their profession, engineers definitely have many duties related to other members of the engineering profession. All duties are not created equal, and there is one duty that supersedes the others; protecting the…
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Ethics of Engineering

The engineering profession makes significant contributions to the everyday work and life of the government, private and public companies, as well as the general public. As Weil, in discussing the types of questions presented to citizens, companies, and policy makers, states: “How should aircraft producers, airlines and the government regulatory agency deal with wiring insulation problems that have surfaced? What will be the consequences of changing our pollution-control strategy? Suppose that instead of attacking outflow of pollutants at the pipe end, we target input at the front end? (Weil, V. 2002: 59). All of these types of questions fall at the feet of the engineering profession. The impact engineers have on safety could not be more dramatically demonstrated than the space shuttle Challenger disaster. It is common knowledge that the engineering staff was against the launch because it feared the effect of cold weather on the O-rings. Every engineer involved knew that if the O-rings failed, there would be an explosion and the mission would be lost. When the engineering staff notified command authorities that they were recommending postponement of the loss, the managers pressured the engineers to change their minds. In the end, the engineers capitulated and the launch went forward as planned—with disastrous results. Why didn’t the command staff listen to the concerns of the engineers? Why did the engineers change their position? If the engineers had such great concerns, why didn’t someone blow the whistle? All of these questions carry ethical implications that cross professional and occupational lines—including the duty of all engineers to preserve the integrity of the profession, the firm or industry for whom they work, and the safety and wellbeing of the individuals who will use their designs. In this case, the very lives of the astronauts were at stake. When that ... Read More
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