Ethics Case #5 Team 10 Quiz 9
An example of a large scale institutional misconduct was in 2005 the Supreme Scientist of South Korea fabricated false data about his stem cell research. • He hid data about eggs he was testing, and he faked DNA codes and only kept a few real ones. • This became one of the most publicized cases of international fraud in the past decade.
“Avoid deceptive acts”- NSPE Code of Ethics, I.5 • “Engineers shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements, or testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such reports, statements, or testimony, which should bear the date indicating when it was current.”- NSPE Code of Ethics, II.3.a • “Engineers shall acknowledge their errors and shall not distort or alter the facts.”- NSPE Code of Ethics, III.1.a
Describe what you would do if you were an individual working as part of a large corporate or research effort and put in the situation possibly being a “whistle-blower”. • A “whistle-blower” is a person who’s job is to notify either their superiors or the authorities if someone is committing misconduct in the company. • If I was put into that situation, I would make sure to do what was right, according to the Code of Ethics. Also, I would make sure that I ensured that the truth was being told and not being hidden for one person’s or the company’s gain.
What your responsibilities to the public and your ethical responsibilities as an engineer? • My responsibilities to the public are to protect them from buying a product that could cause them harm. My ethical responsibilities as an engineer are to make sure that the products made are the best they can be and that they do not cause harm to the public.
What guidance does the NSPE Code of Ethics provide? • As stated previously, • “Engineers shall acknowledge their errors and shall not distort or alter the facts.”- NSPE Code of Ethics, III.1.a • “Avoid deceptive acts”- NSPE Code of Ethics, I.5
Another example of this kind of case is one I heard from my chemistry teacher in high school • She was working as a chemical engineer making fireproof lab tabletops. One day her boss wanted her and her coworkers to create one that was lightweight. They told him it would not be fireproof if it was lightweight, but he told them to make and test it anyway. After a number of bad results, her boss still tried to make her approve them and she refused. He told her “Sign it or you’re fired.” So she quit. • “Engineers shall not complete, sign, or seal plans and/or specifications that are not in conformity with applicable engineering standards. If the client or employer insists on such unprofessional conduct, they shall notify the proper authorities and withdraw from further service on the project.” – NSPE Code of Ethics, III.2.b
Another example is the Enron case. • This case was about financial fraud that lead to bankruptcy of a major energy company, Enron. By using loopholes, poor accounting skills, and other factors, the Financial Officer was able to hide billions of dollars of debt. Because of this, many of the company’s executives were indicted with many charges and sentenced to prison. • This case relates because even though they are not engineers, the executives committed large scale institutional misconduct (the name of the ethics case we chose).