The Engineering Code of Ethics in Practice

As the engineering profession presents a complex intersection of technologies that also influences society and its quality of life in a significant way, engineers are required to possess a certain level of ethics. The ethical codes and guides for engineers primarily focus on cultivating professional ethical skills, such as integrity and responsibility. However, due to the nature of engineers’ work that implies connections and responsibilities to the employer, other professionals, and society, engineers’ codes of ethics also address the aspects of fairness, devotion, safety, confidentiality, and respect.

Therefore, engineers’ codes of ethics are designed to emphasize the importance of different professional and personal qualities in the engineering profession and promote professionals’ development in the important areas. Several codes conducted by different organizations may use varying formulations and focus on different aspects of the engineering profession. However, they all emphasize the importance of the moral component for engineers’ work.

The PEO code of ethics mainly focuses on engineers’ responsibilities and duties. PEO code of ethics approaches the theme of ethics in engineers’ work from the point of connections practitioners have with other concerned parties, such as employers, clients, society, and other professionals and practitioners. Therefore, the PEO code of ethics defines the qualities practitioners should express in relationships with other concerned parties: fairness, loyalty, fidelity, devotion, respect, and cooperation. Another significant issue addressed by the PEO code of ethics is competence, founded on knowledge and conviction.

Even though the IEEE code of ethics utilizes a different approach that focuses on engineers’ actions, its principles are close to the PEO code of ethics. The IEEE Code of ethics presents a set of rules or guides based on certain professional and personal qualities that define the approach that engineers must use in their work. The code also addresses the aspects of safety, fairness, and respect, as well as indicating common areas that should be avoided by the practitioners: bribery, discrimination of other people, malicious intentions, and conflicts. Thus, both PEO and IEEE codes of ethics present a set of directions or rules that support practitioners’ moral and ethical development and address possible threats and unwanted behaviors.

Case study 3 focuses on determining the position of engineer’s ethics on human factor influence in business. In the case, the engineer’s main goal was to define distinct features of the region and local businesses. The engineer’s empathy resulted in an incorrect assessment of the region and eventually led to complications in the company’s work. The situation emphasizes the confrontation between engineers’ work and business problems and brings light to the concepts of engineers’ ethics and codes.

In this case, the main character (Charlie) faces several ethical dilemmas at once. First, Charlie needs to acknowledge that his empathy influenced his adequate use of knowledge, meaning that he failed to show competency in fulfilling the presented task. Then, he did not use honest data, which resulted in unrealistic claims for the employer. Even though the engineer’s mistakes were not sourced in malicious intent, they oppose the qualities valued by the code of ethics, such as integrity and honesty. While empathy presents a moral quality that is highly valued in society, its implementation in professional activities is not welcomed in business.

However, as the engineering mission is improving the quality of life for society, and engineering ethic codes imply a direct connection between society and practitioners, the code of ethics could justify Charlie’s actions. Therefore, the case presents an insight into the existing ambiguity between engineering ethics and their application in business activities.

The recommendation to resolve the dilemma, in this case, is to justify the importance of the company’s development in the region for the employer and convey the practitioner’s ideas and perception to the executives. As the public’s interests are identified first in the PEO code of ethics, and “public welfare” presents a paramount subject of the practitioner’s duty, it leads to the suggestion that Charlie’s actions could be justified [1].

Even though the act also implies fair and loyal relations with the employer, the duty to the employer is not acknowledged as a primary concern [2]. Moreover, the PEO code of ethics states that failure to adhere to the code of ethics is not considered professional misconduct [3]. It might be helpful for Charlie to focus on convincing the employer to continue development in the region based on the acquired information.

While businesses mainly operate intending to get the maximum profit, several factors in the business resemble the ethics code, such as corporate social responsibility. Following corporate responsibility that also acknowledges empathy and protection of society’s interests, Charlie’s actions could also be justified and provide valuable input into establishing a new mission or vision for the company. Therefore, even though there are significant inconsistencies between engineering ethics and fundamental business problems, ethics in all professional activities are similar, and business is not an exception. The PEO approach to the practitioner’s connections and duties emphasizes the paramount orientation of engineering ethics on the population’s welfare and improvements in quality of life.


  1. Government of Ontario, “Professional Engineers Act R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 941,” e-Laws, para. 77.2. 2021. Web.
  2. Government of Ontario, “Professional Engineers Act R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 941,” e-Laws, para. 77.3. 2021. Web.
  3. Government of Ontario, “Professional Engineers Act R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 941,” e-Laws, para. 72. 2021. Web.
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