An Ethical Interview Essay On Civil Engineers
An Ethical Interview Essay On Civil Engineers
Typical to all professions, civil engineers encounter situations that call for them to make sound judgments on ethical dilemmas that face them at their places of work. Most of the dilemmas in the field of civil engineering mainly involve conflicts in the fundamental principles of right or wrong. Studying the codes of ethics and classical issues in the ethics of engineering assists the engineers to make sound ethical decisions.
The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) has expectations on all engineers to behave in an honest manner and with integrity. An important part in engineering integrity is in then protection of public health, welfare, and safety. The engineers should therefore learn to balance their responsibilities to the employers with the responsibilities they hold to the society that their products impact.
One of the most challenging dilemmas that face the civil engineers is the ethical dilemma. Engineering ethics are sets of ethical standards that engineers should follow since they apply to most situations and circumstances that may arise in the course of their profession practice. The standards vary depending on the jurisdiction and discipline of the engineers. The ethical standards include the engineers` obligation towards the public, their employers, and their profession. The general ethical dilemmas facing the engineers include maintaining the rising production costs, maintenance of the balance between the designs of products, maintenance of public safety, and increasing profits. However, other dilemmas face engineers in their various fields of specialization.
Due to these ethical issues, I conducted an interview on two civil engineers with an experience of not less than five years in various fields of civil engineering in order to find out the kind of dilemmas that they face in their daily course of work and their possible solutions. This is a summary report of the interviews I conducted on the engineers.
Report from the interviews
My first interviewee was an ASME member Victor M. Wartson, P.E, who is a systems engineer at Tetra Tech in Oak Ridge, TN. His area of expertise is in business development in regional, local, and international levels and green energy policy. He is a holder of a Bachelors degree in mechanical engineering from California Polytechnic, with a major in machine design, optical physics, and robotics.
Mr. Wartson is a licensed practitioner who passed the ABET technology program, and the NCEES. He claims that the major ethical dilemma he has been facing for most part of his career is tackling future challenges like change in climate change. He narrated to me the ethical challenge by stating that engineers have been proud of doing what everyone can do- but in a better, cost-effective, and efficient way. However, there have been complaints recently of unprofessional behavior. For example, the over-engineering of A46 Newark and Widmerpool improvement brought many complaints.
Eng. Wartson`s firm was retained before he took his PE licensing examination in order to let investigations on the structural integrity of an apartment that one of the firm`s client wanted to sell. Wartson`s supervisors informed him that the client`s demand was that the structural reports to remain confidential. The client then explained to Wartson that he wished to sell the property as it was. Wartson investigated the faults of the structure to find that it had electrical deficiencies that were violations to the codes of safety. He therefore sought advice from an electrical engineer who decided that Wartson had an ethical obligation to disclose this safety hazard. The dilemma was that the client wanted the files to remain confidential so he did not wish to spoil the relationship of the firm with the client and remaining silent about it is against the code of ethics in his profession.
My second interviewee was Emily Couffman. Emily is a Professional Civil and Environmental Engineer and a Manager at Physical Sciences Research Council and EcoFutures Ltd. She is in charge of ensuring that all the climatic challenges and other global perspectives in the construction industry. Emily narrated to me an ethical dilemma that she experienced in her fourth year of practice at EcoFutures Ltd as she was working on a compliance stack test with a senior engineer.
Emily was in charge of arranging the compliance stack test that one of their clients ordered. The firm was to hire another stack-testing firm that would oversee smooth valuation of the compliance test. They formulated a database to calculate the rates of emission and hence determine whether the compliance regulations are observed.
However, in this task, the state representatives did not show up. The test was to precede no matter their despite their absence, since the state needed the data findings submitted as scheduled. After the first two tasks, the consulting firm and the clients gave new instructions that the stack testers to compile some primary data in the two runs. The dilemma came up when it was deemed necessary to issue the public and remain faithful to the agents and the clients. Since Emily worked with the senior engineer, she was not to give any directives. It was therefore a tough decision to make for the senior manager since Emily would always use him as a point of reference to give orders.
During the interviews, I asked the engineers how they handle the dilemmas. The first answer from both of them was that they follow their common sense before applying any other form of solution finding. This however, is the first step in solution finding. The other, and most professional one, is use of the code of ethics that gives them the right direction to provide a professional resolution. The code of ethics is what ensures that the engineers maintain the high ethical standards we know they possess.