Engineering Ethics

An Industrial perspective


  • Gail Baura, Vice President, Research & Chief Scientist CardioDynamics Corporation, San Diego, CA, USA

Engineering Ethics is the application of philosophical and moral systems to the proper judgment and behavior by engineers in conducting their work, including the products and systems they design and the consulting services they provide. In light of the work environment that inspired the new Sarbanes/Oxley federal legislation on “whistle-blowing” protections, a clear understanding of Engineering Ethics is needed like never before. Beginning with a concise overview of various approaches to engineering ethics, the real heart of the book will be some 13 detailed case studies, delving into the history behind each one, the official outcome and the “real story” behind what happened. Using a consistent format and organization for each one—giving background, historical summary, news media effects, outcome and interpretation--these case histories will be used to clearly illustrate the ethics issues at play and what should or should not have been done by the engineers, scientists and managers involved in each instance.
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Mechanical, Aerospace, Civil, Chemical, Electrical, Environmental, and Biomedical engineering; Undergraduate and graduate engineers in these same disciplines; Managers in industry responsible for product development, product safety and liability issues; In-house legal counsel at major manufacturing companies; Public-sector managers and attorneys responsible for enforcement and prosecution of liability, fraud, and related legal areas having to do with product quality and safety


Book information

  • Published: April 2006
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-088531-2


“This is a most extraordinary book. Its contents range from valuable reference material on Sarbanes-Oxley and US engineering codes of conduct to some folksy, almost sentimental, personal case histories. But, remarkably, the author's own personal commitment and integrity shine through on every page." — John Turnbull, The Chemical Engineer, August 2006 At first glance, this book looks like most other recent volumes on this topic. But where other books often written in whole or part by philosophers and academics - can be tedious for engineers who are not coversant with ethical theory, Baura definitely approaches from an industrial perspective. She also addresses the subject with a concrete problem-solving approach and with more elegant prose and a better organization than I find in other treatments.- Gael UlRich, Chemical Engineering 2006 Despite the US focus, the examples are presented with a level of detail that will enable engineers anywhere to understand the underlying technical and behavioral issues. It will be welcomed by those teaching engineering ethics modules, especially with the up-to-date examples we all remember from the news.- Julia King, Materials Today, March 2007

Table of Contents

Part I: An Ethics FoundationChapter 1: A Personal Engineering Ethics Threshold1.1 A Real World Example1.2 What Is Engineering Ethics?1.3 Ethical Theories1.3.1 Utilitarianism1.3.2 Duty Ethics1.3.3 Rights Ethics1.3.4 Virtue Ethics1.4 Engineering Ethics Codes1.4.1 NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers1.4.2 IEEE Code of Ethics1.4.3 Code Effectiveness1.5 Professional Responsibility1.5.1 Protection of Public Safety1.5.2 Technical Competence1.5.3 Timely Communication of Negative & Positive Results to Management1.6 Ethical Dilemmas1.6.1 Public Safety & Welfare1.6.2 Data Integrity & Representation1.6.3 Trade Secrets & Industrial Espionage1.6.4 Gift Giving & Bribery1.6.5 Principle of Informed Consent1.6.6 Conflict of Interest1.6.7 Accountability to Clients & Customers 1.6.8 Fair Treatment1.7 Determining Your Personal Engineering Ethics Threshold for Action1.7.1What Is Your Personal Threshold?1.8 References1.9 Questions for DiscussionChapter 2: Options for Action When an Engineering Ethics Threshold is Reached2.1 Departure2.2 Whistleblowing2.3 The Employee Conscience2.3.1 Employee Protection Legislation 2.3.2 Employee Protection Procedures2.3.3 Employee Protection Examples2.4 The Observer Conscience2.4.1 Observer Protection Legislation2.4.2 Observer Protection Procedures2.4.3 Observer Protection Examples2.5 Conclusion2.6 References2.7 Questions for DiscussionPart II: National Case StudiesChapter 3: 1978 - Ford Pinto Explosion3.1 The Reported Story3.2 The Back Story3.3 Applicable Regulations3.4 An Engineering Perspective3.5 References3.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 4: 1981 - Kansas City Hyatt Regency Skywalk Collapse4.1 The Reported Story4.2 The Back Story4.3 Applicable Regulations4.4 An Engineering Perspective4.5 References4.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 5: 1986 - Challenger Space Shuttle Explosion5.1 The Reported Story5.2 The Back Story5.3 Applicable Regulations5.4 An Engineering Perspective5.5 References5.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 6: 1989 - Exxon Valdez Oil Spill6.1 The Reported Story6.2 The Back Story6.3 Applicable Regulations6.4 An Engineering Perspective6.5 References6.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 7: 1989 - San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Earthquake Collapse7.1 The Reported Story7.2 The Back Story7.3 Applicable Regulations7.4 An Engineering Perspective7.5 References7.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 8: 1994 - Bjork Shiley Heart Valve Defect8.1 The Reported Story8.2 The Back Story8.3 Applicable Regulations8.4 An Engineering Perspective8.5 References8.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 9: 1999 - Y2K Software Conversion9.1 The Reported Story9.2 The Back Story9.3 Applicable Regulations9.4 An Engineering Perspective9.5 References9.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 10: 2002 - Bell Laboratories Scientific Fraud10.1 The Reported Story10.2 The Back Story10.3 Applicable Regulations10.4 A Scientific Perspective10.5 References10.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 11: 2002 - Ford Explorer Rollover11.1 The Reported Story 11.2 The Back Story11.3 Applicable Regulations11.4 An Engineering Perspective11.5 References11.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 12: 2003 - Columbia Space Shuttle Explosion12.1 The Reported Story12.2 The Back Story12.3 Applicable Regulations12.4 An Engineering Perspective12.5 References12.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 13: 2003 - Guidant Ancure Endograft System13.1 The Reported Story13.2 The Back Story13.3 Applicable Regulations13.4 An Engineering Perspective13.5 References13.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 14: 2003 - Northeast Blackout14.1 The Reported Story14.2 The Back Story14.3 Applicable Regulations14.4 An Engineering Perspective14.5 References14.6 Questions for DiscussionChapter 15: 2004 – Indian Ocean Tsunami15.1 The Reported Story15.2 The Back Story15.3 Applicable Regulations15.4 An Engineering Perspective15.5 References15.6 Questions for DiscussionPart III: Individual Case StudiesChapter 16: Anonymous Industrial Engineering Ethics Cases16.1 Case 1: Biomedical Engineer16.2 Case 2: Mechanical Engineer16.3 Case 3: Electrical Engineer16.4 Case 4: Geologic Engineer16.5 Case 5: Biomedical Engineer16.6 Case 6: Electrical Engineer16.7 Case 7: Mechanical Engineer16.8 Case 8: Biomedical Engineer16.9 Case 9: Computer Engineer16.10 Case 10: Electrical Engineer