Engineering touches the lives of every person in America and in many parts of the world. Its ability to affect the quality of life makes ethics in engineering a primary concern.
Generally, ethics for the engineering industry are professional standards that guide conduct and decisionmaking. Although they’re not the same as ethics as you might think of them in your personal life, the overarching goal is still similar, namely, to avoid harm through responsible behavior.
Every engineer needs ongoing professional development education in ethics. The PDH Academy course, Ethics in the World of Engineering, is available online or through the mail as a correspondence style course.
Here’s what you’ll get:
Ethics Course Objectives
Engineers who take part in Ethics in the World of Engineering will leave the course with the following knowledge:
- Engineering and how it relates to human life and society
- The importance and value of engineering ethics for society, the engineering profession, and the individual engineer
- How professional ethics compare to religious and personal ethics
- How professional codes of ethics and value systems protect people as well as the engineering profession
- The scope of professional responsibility and its limitations as well as “proactive responsible actions”
- The importance of continuing education in ethics throughout the career of an engineer
- How sustainable development relates to engineering and the environment
- Where public concerns about advancing technology evolve from and the effect of those concerns
Public Perception of the Engineering Industry
The introduction to this continuing education course covers some of the same issues you’ve probably dealt with before. The average person doesn’t really know what an engineer does. That causes confusion, which can affect public perception about engineers and policy that affects the way the engineering industry works.
The confusion exists because engineers tend to stay behind the scenes and are usually part of a team. They don’t get a lot of airtime and they’re not often featured as compelling or exciting characters in movies, on television, or in books.
The fact that engineering is somewhat mysterious illustrates the need for ethics training. Engineering affects people every day, but most people don’t connect the dots between the technology that they can see or hold and its designer and creator, the engineer.
Engineering and Personal Ethics: Similar but Different
The ethical and moral standards that you live by outside of work might help guide professional behaviors, but they’re different in some noteworthy ways. Personal ethics are rooted in what you’ve learned from family, your culture, and perhaps religion about morals and general rights and wrongs. They guide you as you represent yourself in the world. Professional ethics are more succinct.
Professional ethics for STEM careers are devised, codified, and sometimes updated not as a personal or private standard, but to direct the whole industry. In this course, you’ll learn that a professional ethics code isn’t a concept as much as it is an agreement made between engineers and the public whose lives will be affected by their work.
An ethics code helps engineers plan and develop new technology that helps society while avoiding harm. Most associations, such as the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers, have an ethics code.
Protecting People While Advancing the Industry
Although professional ethics codes are built on protecting society by doing no harm, that’s only part of their purpose. They’re also designed to help the industry grow, mature, and develop new technology that benefits society.
In the PDH Academy course, you’ll learn about the commitment engineers make to protect the health and welfare of people in society. That’s partly why there’s no single ethics code for all engineers. Every field is different, and so are the risks to society. You’ll also learn why protecting the dignity as well as the right to consent of humans is so important.
Ethics holds engineers accountable for their decisions and actions. They also help them safeguard and advance their own profession. By understanding the effect of engineering on society, professional engineers can help lead the industry forward with new technologies and, as the course explains, “new frontiers.”
Focused Areas of Study
When you’re ready to take the final exam for this course, you will have studied and learned why these topics are relevant to engineering professionals:
- Legal vs. professional responsibility
- Proactive and responsible actions
- Integrity and honesty
- Professional academics and scholars
- Dynamic issues in engineering ethics
- Environmental issues and sustainable development
- Ethics of emerging technologies
Usually, any professional code of ethics that you adhere to has stricter standards than the legal requirements to practice as an engineer. When you follow a code, you place the health, safety, and welfare of humans in society higher than any other commitment, including the industry and yourself as an engineer.
Because engineering touches nearly everything in 21st-century society and so few people really understand its effect on their lives, the onus is on the engineering profession to take a proactive stance that protects the industry while it grows.
When your professional development credits are due, check out what our PE approved courses have to offer. Unless you live in Florida, this course in ethics meets your professional requirements.