Why Do Engineers Need Ethics?

When we became professional engineers and joined the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers, we made a commitment to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. In our careers, we will encounter moments that test our resolve and promise to the public and to ourselves. Sometimes, the easy decision might be the hard path to take, but we must ensure to always follow the NJSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers.

Below are some notable real world examples of why engineers need ethics and when whistleblowing is the ethical thing to do:

Sometimes, when working for a company for a long time or developing friendships with managers or our co-workers, we may find it difficult to address a problem, even if it seems minor. For new engineers, the difficulty may be the worry about job security. No matter the scenario, it is gravely important engineers follow our code of ethics. Below are some more real world examples reported by Steven H. Unger of Columbia University, which all ended in wrongful termination suits:

When navigating these difficult scenarios, you should know by following the NJSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers, you will have the society and the law on your side.

Earn Engineering Continuing Education Credits in New Jersey

On April 29, NJSPE will be holding a full-day of engineering continuing education at The Palace at Somerset Park. Each course is designed to keep you up-to-date on the latest information all professional engineers need to know and provide you credits to maintain your license. All 10 credits are eligible for New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania engineers. Here are the courses you will take:

  • Professional Engineering Ethics 101: The program is broken into several parts. Introduction to common statutory and regulatory ethics rules; review of the National Society of Professional Engineers Code of Ethics with examples of common ethics rules, illustrative case studies to consider, with emphasis on the similarities and differences between governmental and professional society sanctions; practical reasons for ethical practice, how unethical practice can present professional liability, legal, licensure, moral and public health, safety and welfare issues. Presented by Larry Powers, Esq.
  • Resilient coastal design in an uncertain future – demonstrated by recent catastrophic storm emergency reconstructions & Bridging the Gap between Utilities and the Transportation Project: Discussions will include accessing damaged roadway infrastructure and gathering survey and design data in an area devastated by a natural disaster; engineering solutions to provide sustainable pavement and drainage infrastructure (protection from future catastrophic storm events); innovative utility conflict coordination methods (well over 1000 conflict locations), private property owner and agency coordination, along with several design, construction, and Project Management tools and techniques developed for this massive undertaking. Presented by Drew Markewicz, PE, PMP.
  • Stormwater Management Fundamentals: This course will review the fundamental aspects of Stormwater Management that can be defined as a System of Strategies and Measures to Manage the Creation, Collection, Conveyance, Storage, Treatment, Use, and Discharge of Stormwater Runoff to Prevent the Adverse Impacts of Land Disturbance, Development, and Redevelopment. Areas covered will touch on Runoff Drainage and Conveyance, Flood and Erosion Control, Nonpoint Source Pollution Control, Watershed Planning and Design, Groundwater Recharge, Structural and Nonstructural Strategies and Measures.
  • Hydrograph Routings Accreditation: Important aspects of Routings to be utilized in the Development of Hydrographs will be covered in this course. Routing can be defined as a Mathematical Procedure for Predicting the Change in Magnitude, Speed, and Shape of a Hydrograph as a Function of Time. This presentation will cover Hydrologic and Hydraulic Routing Methods, Level Pool Routings, Storage Indication Calculations, Stage Storage and Stage Discharge Curves and Methods of Estimating Storage Volumes. Also included is a review of Computer Programs that may be Utilized in Performing these Calculations. Presented by Joseph J. Skupien, P.E., P.P.

If you’re interested in learning about these topics and earning engineering continuing education credits, register before it’s too late. Seats are going fast and they will sell out. If you’d like to learn more about the NJSPE Code of Engineering Ethics, please click here.

Engineering Advocacy Topics you Need to Know

Like most other professions, professional engineers across the country are constantly dealing with legislative changes that may negatively affect how they operate. That is why organizations like NJSPE are so important for protecting and advancing the engineering profession throughout New Jersey. As we get further into 2019, these are the hot topics where engineering advocacy is most important for New Jersey engineers:

  • License: Unfortunately, the professional engineering license is constantly under threat. Recently, certain organizations are trying to pass legislation that would allow anyone to practice any occupation without a license as long as they disclose this information. As you know, this is dangerous and will lead to new complications in the engineering field.
  • Technology: As new technology continues to emerge, there comes new challenges and necessary legislation to maintain ethical practices. We fight to ensure that legislation protects engineers moving forward.
  • Autonomous vehicles: Every day, we get closer to fully autonomous vehicles hitting the roads. That’s why New Jersey recently created an autonomous vehicle engineering task force. NJSPE advocated to secure a spot for a professional engineer on this task force to ensure we protect drivers and pedestrians.
  • STEM education: While this topic is prevalent throughout the country, New Jersey has seen a lot of new developments in education funding. Governor Phil Murphy announced in his budget address that he plans to add $15.4 billion in K-12 aid to eventually achieve fully funded public education.

If you are a professional engineer interested in engineering advocacy and protecting your profession, it’s never been a better time to join NJSPE. We are the only New Jersey organization dedicated to promoting, serving and representing professional engineers for the public’s safety and benefit. Learn more about our membership options and join now here.

How to Implement Engineering Ethics into Everything you Do

The field of engineering is constantly evolving to meet the demands of a changing society. This means that the old ethical rules may need to develop with the times. Staying up to date with engineering ethics is an essential part of furthering your career in this field.

What is Engineering Ethics?

Many fields have a set of ethical guidelines, and engineering is no exception. These guidelines give advice on how a professional should conduct themselves. Engineering ethics create a framework for decision-making and dealing with potential conflicts. If you’d like to refresh your knowledge, please view our code of ethics here.

What Are the Principles of Engineering Ethics?

The most fundamental principle is to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of the public. As professional engineers, it is our job to protect the public by only approving engineering documents that utilize the safest and most ethical practices available. Other important principles include:

  • only acting in areas where you are competent
  • remaining objective and truthful and avoiding deception
  • conducting yourself in a way that will shine the best light on the engineering profession

What if You Face an Ethical Dilemma?

It’s important to have a measured response when facing a difficult situation like this. According to the National Society of Professional Engineer’s ethics study guide, there are nine steps to ethical engineering decisions. You can read about them in detail here, but the overall principles are to:

  • have a clear goal
  • remain objective
  • understand the facts of the situation including legal concerns
  • consider a variety of options
  • seek trusted outside perspectives
  • decide on a clear course of action

Another important aspect of engineering ethics is how to handle an ethical dilemma with your employer. This can be a difficult balancing act, and your options are listed here.

Would You Like To Learn More?

The New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers (NJSPE) is one of the leading experts in this area. If you’d like to advance the discourse on how ethics can be applied to the field of engineering, consider attending our upcoming continuing education course on April 29. We will be offering ethics credits.

We welcome people of all backgrounds and stages of their career. Your unique perspective can help us further the field of engineering ethics. If you also become a member, you’ll have access to a wide range of benefits, from updates on the law to online seminars. Come by our website to learn more.


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