Chapter 3 Introduction to Engineering Ethics PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering College of Engineering - University of Hail 2010
Ethics and ethical reasoning is vitally important in engineering. It can be a matter of life and death. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
Consider a worst case scenario The Challenger Disaster PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
ABET The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology • responsible for accrediting undergraduate engineering degrees in the U.S. • Mandates ethics to be incorporated into education to educate future engineers in ethical practice
What is Engineering Ethics? Ethics is: • the study of the characteristics of morals • The moral choices made by people in their relationships with others. Engineering Ethics: • The philosophy indicating ways that engineers should conduct themselves in their professional capacity
Why Study Engineering Ethics? The widely publicized cases that have occurred in recent years has drawn attention to the need for more education in ethical behavior
Moral Autonomy • the ability to think critically and independently about moral issues • Apply this moral thinking to situations that arise in professional engineering practice Moral autonomy is at the heart of engineering ethics.
The Challenger Lift-off on January 28, 1986. The Space Shuttle, Challenger’s exploded 73 seconds after launching. The explosion resulted in the deaths of all seven crew members. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
The Challenger crash involved an exceptionally disastrous neglect of engineering ethics Thankfully, most ethical problems you’ll encounter will be less catastrophic than the Challenger disaster. But, though less catastrophic, ethical problems will arise frequently in your careers as engineers and they will have profound influence on your success. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
First, we need to understand that ethical reasoning uses different methods from mathematics and the sciences. Every ethical problem involves a conflict of goals and Interests. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
Basic goals that often come into conflict for engineers: A goal to maintain professional competence. • A goal to be loyal to interests of employers and clients. • A goal to be honest to employers, customers and the public. • A goal to be non-discriminatory to co-workers and clients regarding their race, color, religion, gender, ethnicity, age or disability. • A goal to use your skills and knowledge for the enhancement of human welfare and the environment.
To pay for your education. You need to find summer work. So let’s consider a case. You find a high-paying job as a forklift operator. It helps you to avoid taking out student loans. You find yourself staring at a 50-gallon drum filled with used machine coolant, wondering what to do. You know the coolant is toxic; It may kill people or cause cancer. Your supervisor, at the company, tells you to “Dump half of the coolant down the drain. Then dilute the rest with tap water and pour it out.” What do you do?
You could say to yourself. “I’ll go along with this jerk for now. I’m out of here in a month anyway, then I’m back to UoH.” Or maybe you think to yourself: “Max is just the sort of people who’s wrecking the environment. I’m out of here NOW. AND, I’m going to think about reporting the company to the Environmental Protection Agency.” PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
This is how we meet most ethical problems, as a choice between two disagreeable alternatives. In this case, obeying the supervisor or quitting. They are “dilemmas” in the strict sense of the word. ‘Dilemma’: a choice between two equally unfavorable or disagreeable alternatives. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
Although sometimes we are up against a wall facing a choice between two undesirable alternatives and must choose one of them, we usually can find a better solution. Finding the better solution requires we become skilled in ethical problem-solving. This skill consists in arriving at a third alternative that answers both sides of the dilemma and resolves the conflict. In ethical problem solving, we consider paradigm cases that would ideally satisfy either side of the goals that bear upon the case. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
So let’s apply it to your Case. What would a paradigm case of disposing of toxic coolants consist in? The removal of toxic substances from the used coolant. The highest toxicities come from the heavy metals copper, lead and zinc. A less toxic substance in engine coolant is ethylene glycol. It is treatable at wastewater treatment plants. So, the ‘heavy metal captured’ coolant must be disposed of in sewers that connect to wastewater treatment plants and never into surface or storm water collection systems. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
You think more about the first feature of the paradigmatic disposal of coolants. The first feature: “The disposal of engine coolants requires the removal of the heavy metals copper, lead and zinc from the used coolant.” What if the removal the copper, lead and zinc would result in recyclable coolant? You look more in the recycling of engine coolant. You locate a firm, Dawn Recycling Systems Inc., that sells a coolant recycling system. The Recycling system captures the heavy metal contaminants, copper, zinc and lead, and leaves non-toxic the treated coolant that can be stored in tramp oils. The Dawn Recycling Systems manager demonstrates that the system will pay for itself within six to nine months through the sale of recycled ‘tramp oils’, that is, through detoxified engine coolant. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
So by considering the paradigm of safe coolant disposal, you’ve opened up a way to resolve the conflicting goals (and probably help your own career). Here is a possible course of action: You inform the supervisor that you’ve found a way to detoxify the 50 gallon drums and to also make money for Natural Disposal Inc. You tell him to accompany you to discuss the matter with his company management. There, you explain to management how the company can avoid likely lawsuits coming from toxic dumping, make money on the recycled coolant in the long-run, anddo the ecologically right thing. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
When facing any engineering ethical problem, always review the fundamental principles in the Code of Ethics of International Professional Societies: • The American Society of Civil Engineers; • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. ; • National Society of Professional Engineers PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
For example:The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Code of Ethics In general, your goals as engineers are spelled out in engineering professional codes. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
Engineering Ethical Code declares: Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor and dignity of the engineering profession by: 1. using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare and the environment; 2. being honest and impartial and serving with fidelity the public, their employers and clients; 3. striving to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession; and 4. supporting the professional and technical societies of their disciplines.
The code, in fact, underlines the conflict you’re trying to resolve. The code spells out your general professional goals. But, itcan’t tell you what to do in any particular case, such as the problem with the forklift part-time job case. PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH
Thank you Any Questions ? PREP004 – Introduction to Applied Engineering , College of Engineering, UoH