Navigating the Road Ahead: The Promise and Perils of Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles, once the stuff of science fiction, are now on the brink of revolutionizing how we move. From self-driving cars to autonomous trucks and drones, these vehicles promise safer roads, reduced congestion, and greater mobility. However, as engineers work tirelessly to bring autonomous technology to fruition, they must also grapple with various challenges and potential pitfalls. Here, we’ll explore the promise and perils of autonomous vehicles, shedding light on their benefits and risks to society.

The Promise of Autonomous Vehicles:

Improved Safety:

One of the most compelling arguments favoring autonomous vehicles is their potential to save lives. According to the World Health Organization, road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death worldwide, with millions of lives lost each year due to accidents caused by human error. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to dramatically reduce the number of accidents by eliminating human error from the equation. With advanced sensors, cameras, and artificial intelligence, these vehicles can react faster and more accurately to potential hazards on the road, leading to fewer accidents and fatalities.

Reduced Congestion:

Autonomous vehicles have the potential to make our roads more efficient by reducing congestion and improving traffic flow. With the ability to communicate with each other and with traffic infrastructure in real time, autonomous vehicles can optimize their routes and speeds to minimize delays and bottlenecks. This could lead to shorter commute times, less time wasted sitting in traffic, and reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

Greater Accessibility:

Autonomous vehicles can potentially increase mobility for people who cannot drive due to age, disability, or other factors. By providing a safe and reliable means of transportation for those who cannot drive themselves, autonomous vehicles have the potential to improve access to jobs, healthcare, education, and other essential services. This could lead to greater independence and quality of life for millions of people around the world.

The Perils of Autonomous Vehicles:

Ethical Dilemmas:

As autonomous vehicles become more widespread, they will inevitably face ethical dilemmas that must be addressed. For example, in a situation where an accident is unavoidable, how should the vehicle prioritize the safety of its occupants versus the safety of pedestrians or other cars? These are complex moral questions that engineers, policymakers, and society must grapple with as autonomous technology continues to advance.

Job Displacement:

The widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles can potentially disrupt entire industries and displace millions of workers. For example, autonomous trucks could eliminate the need for long-haul truck drivers, while autonomous taxis could put taxi and rideshare drivers out of work. This could lead to widespread economic hardship and social unrest if adequate measures are not taken to retrain displaced workers and ensure a smooth transition to an autonomous future.

Cybersecurity Risks:

As autonomous vehicles become more connected and reliant on technology, they become more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Hackers could potentially gain control of autonomous vehicles, causing chaos on the roads or even using them as weapons. Ensuring the cybersecurity of autonomous vehicles will require robust encryption, authentication, intrusion detection systems, constant vigilance, and rapid response to emerging threats.

Autonomous vehicles hold immense promise for the future of transportation, offering improved safety, reduced congestion, and greater accessibility for all. However, they also pose significant challenges and potential risks that must be addressed. By carefully weighing the benefits and drawbacks of autonomous technology and taking proactive measures to mitigate its risks, engineers can help ensure that the promise of autonomous vehicles is realized while minimizing their perils. As we navigate the road ahead, it’s essential that we proceed with caution, foresight, and a commitment to building a safer, more sustainable future of transportation.

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

Current New Jersey Engineering Jobs Available

Maybe you need more room to grow, were recently let go, or just need a change of pace. Regardless of the reason or level of experience you have, it’s perfectly normal to start looking for a new job.  

Searching for jobs can be a huge time sink – with thousands of jobs that kind of fit what you are looking for but aren’t quite right. To hopefully make your search a little easier, we pulled together some current openings for New Jersey engineering jobs in a variety of locations:

To stay up-to-date on open New Jersey engineering jobs, check out our job board! New engineering positions are constantly being added.

What Does Fellowship Status Really Mean?

Becoming a member of the NSPE Fellow Program is one of the most coveted titles in engineering. This exclusive group has proven themselves to be active members of NSPE for a considerable time at the chapter, state, and national levels. These driven engineers are not only advocates at the national level but also great leaders in their local communities.

Being recognized at such a high level lends an incredible opportunity to those with the title. New members are recognized yearly and added to the complete list on NSPE’s website. This national recognition can yield new career opportunities, boosted awareness in your community, as well as further credentials to shape the young engineering minds of the future.

Given that this title represents a remarkable career, it should be no surprise that the nomination and application process to be recognized is a rigorous feat. Qualified individuals are considered by actively serving for at least 10 years at all three levels (chapter, state, and national). Nominees are also required to provide at least three and no more than four letters of recommendation, one of which must be from a current Fellow. If being nominated through the state society, one letter must also come from the president or appropriate officer of that chapter.

The board has identified three areas where the nominee must show prominent accomplishments: the engineering profession, the Society, and the community. It is important that the application provides great details of these achievements because the reviewing committee will not be familiar with every applicant. These accomplishments are often through NSPE. However, activity in other engineering societies should also be included.

Applications are reviewed yearly with a hard deadline of February 1 each year. The Fellow membership status is a great honor and even compiling the necessary steps for the application should be applauded. If not selected for this exclusive list, members may re-apply the next year. There will always be room for the dedicated engineering professionals who are leading our society forward.

To learn more about the nomination and application process, visit the fellow membership guide here.

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