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Importance of Ethical Codes in Engineering

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Engineering ethic is the set of rules and guidelines that engineers adhere as a moral obligation to their profession and to the world. It is closely related to subjects such as the philosophy of science, the philosophy of engineering, and the ethics of technology as a scholarly discipline. In definition, professional ethics are the accepted code of conducts or rules and regulations that govern a professional body. Engineering ethics are vital to the profession as they define what engineers should and should not do according to the moral of the society. Engineering ethics are rules and regulations that refers to the morals or the notion of wrong and right according to humanity. These ethics are mainly meant to protect the integrity of engineering work and therefore consider the interests of investors, public or stakeholders.

There are several issues involved with the misconduct of engineers and mostly are related to public. The usage of substandard material and equipment compromises people’s safety. Even though most engineering fields are closely related, some differences determine the competence of resultant professions. Engineering ethics must always be upheld since failure to comply to them can greatly compromise the quality of the service. For example, if we are a biomedical engineer that is working with an artificial kidney. We need to decide whether to test the artificial kidney on human or not when there is clinical trial phase. The consequences will be fatal, if the device fail but we could save thousands of people life if it is succeeding. We can use the steps of problem solving in engineering ethics to help us to make the best decision. The steps are state the problem, get the facts, identify and defend competing moral viewpoint, come up with a course of action and qualify the course of action.

I will have my own obligations and responsibilities to deal with such circumstances as based on the question that I am asked if we are under Abdul Rahman’s situation. Note that typically declarations of obligations define what actions are necessary or forbidden in reference to the consequences of the statute. But, sometimes phrases such as “engineers have a duty to ensure public safety in their work”, implying that engineers are legally obliged to ensure public safety but in defining what activities they will or cannot not. A legal duty is a constitutional provision that defines what kinds of acts are allowed, forbidden or necessary for legal purposes. If we think about a duty without defining its existence, we mean a moral obligation. The rational and forward-looking sense of obligation is the context in which it is one's duty in any matter to produce or maintain a positive outcome. The theory is that one is tasked with achieving or sustaining this result, and required to have appropriate expertise and skills, as well as make a diligent effort.

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Abdul Rahman is as engineer working in the quality control department at a computer chip plant. Abdul Rahman’s subordinate generally to identifies defective production rate in manufactured chips at a rate of 1 in 150, David who is Abdul Rahman's superior, recently announced that defective chips are to be destroyed because it is more expensive to repair a defective chip than it is to make a new chip. Abdul Rahman proceeds based on David's instructions. A few months later, David informs Abdul Rahman that his quality control staff is rejecting too many chips, which is influencing overall plant output and ultimately company profitability. David advises Abdul Rahman’s staff to allow a higher percentage of chips to pass through quality control. David notes that in the end, these issues can be best handled under the company's warranty policy under which the company agrees to replace defective chips based upon customer complaints. Based on the situations, it seems like David was not trying to comply to the specifications of quality control. He was satisfying the work that did not fulfill the requirements of the engineering design and specifications as he mentioned that he wanted to allow a higher percentage of chips to pass through quality regardless of some defective chips.

According to Board of Engineers of Malaysia, Circular No.001, Code of Conduct of Registered Person, Section 2.2.1, it states that a registered professional engineer shall certify satisfactory completion of a piece of work only if he has control over the supervision of the construction or installation of that work, and only if he is satisfied that the construction or installation has fulfilled the requirements of the engineering design and specifications. Other than that, David was also trying to avoid taking liability and responsibility as he said that at the end, these issues will be best handled under company’s warranty policy under which the company agrees to replace defective chips base upon customer complaints. In Section 2.2.2, a registered professional engineer who takes over a piece of work shall assume all liability and responsibility for the works done prior to his taking over. So, David has violated the Code of conduct because he did not want to take responsibility on his incompliance. Abdul Rahman objected to David’s practice and refused to go along, and as a result he was transferred to another department and was replaced with incompetence new staff, Halid. Halid is a person that follow all David’s instruction without considering rules, regulations and specification. At Section 3.2.3, a registered graduate engineer shall bring to the attention of the engineer or employer at the earliest possible opportunity of any instance where the work or materials used are not in compliance with the specifications, drawings or conditions of contract. Halid violates the Code because he is incompetence and did not do anything regarding his superior David’s incompliance. He should have reported or bring to the attention of employer at the earliest possible opportunity of any instance where the work used are not in compliance with the specifications. The BEM code can at best distinguish between what is legal and what is not and may be regarded as the baseline or minimum level of ethics that ought to be maintained all the rules in the Code except two consist of clear cut ‘Dos and Don’ts’.

These rules concern what an engineer shall or shall not do in the course of his employment or private practice and are extremely clear cut. We can clearly see that codes of ethics state the moral responsibilities of engineers as seen by the profession and as represented by a professional society because they express the profession’s collective commitment to ethics. Codes are important in stressing engineer’s responsibilities and also the freedom to exercise them. The essential roles of codes of ethics are serving and protecting the public, providing guidance, offering inspiration, establishing shared standards, contributing to education, deterring wrongdoing and strengthening a profession’s image.

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Importance of Ethical Codes in Engineering. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from
“Importance of Ethical Codes in Engineering.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022,
Importance of Ethical Codes in Engineering. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2023].
Importance of Ethical Codes in Engineering [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2023 Nov 29]. Available from:
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