Professional Engineering Ethics

New Jersey professional engineers are required to earn 24 PDH biennially. Two of these credit hours must be in the area of ethics. All of the required hours can be earned through online continuing education courses. Continuing Education is known as continuing professional competency (CPC) in New Jersey. All New Jersey engineering licenses are renewed on April 30th of even numbered years.

NJSPE currently offers an ethics course titled “PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING ETHICS 101”

This course is available to NJSPE members for $35 dollars and to nonmembers for $50.
You can register and complete the course HERE.

Objective of Course
The learning objective is to expose the seminar participants to various engineering related professional and statutory codes of ethics to indoctrinate ethics awareness and an understanding of ethical standards common to all jurisdictions, including those of the participants, so that the participants understand the boundaries of ethical engineering behavior. 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 difference 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.

Why is it Important for a Professional Engineer to be Ethical?

Professional engineers make a commitment to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. In your career you may encounter moments that test your resolve and promise to the public and to yourselves. Sometimes, the easy decision might be the hard path to take, but you 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:
The Challenger Disaster – engineers noticed the booster rockets on the shuttle would not seal properly in cold temperatures. Despite warning their managers, they watched as the shuttle launched, and 73 seconds later, it exploded killing the seven astronauts onboard.
Should they have become whistleblowers to prevent the launch? Vivian Weil of Illinois Institute of Technology reviews in this NSPE article.
MedTech’s Infant Respirators – Sam Wilson, an engineer at MedTech, found the valves on the company’s infant respirators were not able to protect from overpressure. After twice bringing this to the attention of his managers, he was fired after saying he would report the problem.
By following the code of ethics that binds professional engineers, Sam won his wrongful discharge suit.
Sometimes, when working for a company for a long time or developing friendships with managers or our co-workers, you 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 that engineers follow the code of ethics.

When navigating difficult scenarios, remember that following the NJSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers, you will result in having society and the law on your side.

New Jersey Professional Engineer Continuing Education Requirements – Continuing Education for professional engineers PDH. PRO. (2021, May 21). Retrieved January 6, 2022, from https://www.pdh-pro.com/new-jersey-requirements/

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