Ethics in Engineering Profession: Pedagogy and Practices

Ethics in Engineering Profession: Pedagogy and Practices

Jandhyala N. Murthy, Lavanya C., Satyanarayana Kosaraju
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2245-5.ch014
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Engineering as a profession distinguishes itself by having and enforcing a code of ethics. Aberrations can lead to commercial considerations to dominate converting the profession into a business rather than promoting safety, health, and welfare of public and environment. Engineers, in their professional quest for an optimal solution, are forced into a dilemma due to clash of values or interests. The explosion of data and its usage is bringing in a lot of concern due to proliferation of unethical practices. Moral values and personal ethics at one end and professional and social ethics at the other end of the spectrum are of points of discussion in academics as well as in society. Engineering programmes strive to offer engineering ethics and professionalism either through direct courses or through embedded capsules in appropriate courses. Promotion of ethics integrating into the engineering profession at all levels could lead to a holistic alternative at universal level, which is self-satisfying, people-friendly, and eco-friendly.
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  • Wealth without Work,

  • Pleasure without Conscience,

  • Knowledge without Character,

  • Commerce (Business) without Morality (Ethics),

  • Science without Humanity,

  • Religion without Sacrifice,

  • Politics without Principles

  • - The Seven Social Sins – Mahatma Gandhi

Ms Senior has entered into her final semester of BTech Computer Science Engineering. She is required complete her final year major project by March of that year. She had competitive examinations like GATE in the month of February and booked a slot for GRE and TOEFEL in the month of March. As preparation for competitive examinations are in the way of project submission, She was tempted to purchase a project in the open market and submit it as her own. Is she right in her actions and what measures to be taken to curtail such ethical aberrations called plagiarism?

Mr Starter, soon after graduation, joined a start up company manufacturing airworthy washers. He was asked by his supervisor to file a tender before the closing hours of the day as it was the last date. He managed to reach the office just half an hour before closing time. For accepting tender, the official wanted his hand to be greased, which is against the personal ethics of Mr Starter. What should he do leave values or lose tender participation chance?

A young engineer, MrShuru, started his career working in Heat Treatment Shop in a car manufacturing company. One day his supervisor asked him to dump some life expired toxic chemical into the drainage. MrShuru feltit was against public interest as there arechances of getting into storm water drain contaminating the ground water as well as near by lake. He expressed the same to his supervisor, who bullied him stating that” you better do what I tell you. I have been here for a number of years, I know what is right. The amount of chemical is very little, it will soon get diluted in storm water before it reached lake. Even if few fish die, so what? MrShuru hesitated, but the boss continued “you better do what I tell you or look for another job?”. What should MrShuru do?

Cases mentioned above are some ethical aberrations or temptationsfaced by engineers duringtheir academic pursuit and professional practice. This type of ethical cases can go far beyond issues of plagiarism, bribery and public safety and may involve neglect of duty, fraud, environmental protection, honesty in research and testing and conflicts of interest etc. During their undergraduate education, engineers receive training in basic and engineering sciences, problem - solving methodology, engineering design, etc. but generally receive little training in business practices, safety and ethics.Several notorious cases that have led to an awareness of the importance of ethics within the engineering profession as engineers realize how their technical work has far-reaching impacts on society, affecting public health and safety and influencing business practices and even politics. (Goswami, D., &Chakraborty, A. 2015).

Mr. Abhay, is an assistant professor with ten years of teaching experience in Department of Mechanical Engineering in a reputed autonomous Engineering College. He is ambitious and eagerly waiting for his promotion. But with change in policies, publications have increasingly become a measurable index for promotions. His experimental set up is hibernating due to fund crunch. He is aware that “no data, therefore no paper”. A colleague advised him to fabricate data! MrAbhay is afraid of research misconduct. What should he do!

Fake science undermines trust in science and the capacity of individuals and society to make evidence-informed choices (Hopf, H., Krief, A., Mehta, G., &Matlin, S. A. 2019).As the pressure to publish increases, so has plagiarism. (Smith, R. 2006).Facing these challenges, it is especially important that the scientific world as a whole upholds the highest standards of ethical behaviour, honesty and transparency, aiming to sustain the gold standards of research integrity and validated information. Academic institutions have a key role to promoting this behavioragainst the odds of personal ambitions and prevailing pressures.

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