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Ethical Issues for Engeneers

Updated on March 23, 2013

Ethical Problems for Engineers

Most of the times, engineering professionals are faced with a number of issues that seem to affect the society negatively while the professionals are exercising their duties. These problems are normal for any qualified personnel in any field but humans tend to ignore this and usually feel they are their mistakes, and can rectify them with ease. These engineers are intended to improve the living standards of the people; thus, the problems that may arise unseen though it may seem undesirable once the product is in use the engineers must exercise high level of moral character and ethics that define their profession. Ethics are there to enable engineers to be answerable to the public, their clients and employers in the most respectable manner of professionalism. Engineering is therefore, a great profession that is needed all over the world today to make lives simpler; the engineers formulate solutions to the problems facing humanity and are expected to design the solutions in a way that they would be reliable at any given time.


Understanding one’s duty in this profession goes hand in hand with understanding,” Ethics.” Ethics in engineering field define the moral duties and obligations of a professional engineer to his/her clients, the community and their employers. All persons in this profession should abide in these ethics at all times during their career. While this code of ethics was prepared for the general cases, it’s the duty of an Engineer to know where it applies. Failure to observe the ethics code of conduct has been the main reasons for a lot of disasters in the field of Engineering. Some of the ethics include: Engineers being held responsible to the public (e.g., any problem in health caused by wrong diagnosis); a professional in engineering should consider him/ herself to be of importance to the society; being faithful in exercising duties to fellow professionals and to the public.

There are many challenges that engineers face in the world today. While others are as a result of not observing the ethical conducts well, others are as a result of technical hitches during the designing of equipment that could be used for diagnosis in hospitals or designing a software; making of default machines. For instance, an engineer may develop medical equipment and misses out a crucial part in the equipment, using a company’s software without license, an engineer could be required to use an equipment designed by a fellow engineer where by the engineer may not be very conversant with the specifications of the equipment in question, in a different version, a professional engineer may be employed in a company that does not honor contracts with manufacturing companies.


Consider an instance where a qualified engineer has been employed in a company that deals with the manufacture of medical equipment used by infants under pressure. While doing the daily duties, you discover that the valve relief that usually determines whether a new- born baby is under pressure and control is wrongly placed. The engineer then reports the matter to the manager, who is not an engineer, and he is informed by the manager that the issue would be looked upon. Later, the engineer discovers that the issue was not dealt with, as correcting the problem could involve stopping the manufacturing of the equipment for a while, as a result the engineer knows that a lot of default medical equipment are in circulation. This prompts him to go to the manager and informs him that should no immediate action be taken, he would report the company to the necessary authorities. Later, the engineer decides to step down.

This scenario is one of the dilemmas facing engineers, although the engineer’s action does not compel to the ethical code of conduct (i.e., holding the safety of the welfare and health of the public, and acting trustworthy and truthfully to the employer or client). 1996).


It’s unethical for the engineer to decide to step down; instead he could have sort for internal solutions if impossible, seek external solution for the matter.


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