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Topic Title: Professional ethics and the IET
Topic Summary: A new Web zone on professionalism and ethics is available on the IET site
Created On: 20 August 2009 10:00 AM
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 20 August 2009 10:00 AM
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libman

Posts: 31
Joined: 17 September 2001

Being a professional engineer means that the wider public trust engineers to be competent and to adhere to certain ethical standards. The trust engineers derive from being seen as a professional is one of the benefits of being a member of the IET, but it also means that engineers have certain ethical responsibilities. Like most professional bodies, the IET has Rules of Conduct which set out the standards of behaviour expected of its members.

To help members and the public to interpret the Rules of Conduct and to understand the demands of professional behaviour, the IET has established a Web zone on professional ethics and the IET. The zone focuses on eight values that are embedded in the Rules of Conduct and includes a set of interactive case studies designed to help members practice exercising their judgement in ethically challenging situations. These cases are based on the experiences of real engineers and reflect real-life situations where the right thing to do is not always obvious. There is also a list of books, articles and Web sites for those who would like to explore ethics and professionalism further.

Please take a look at the zone and work your way through some of the case studies. Then let us know what you think of it by posting your comments on this discussion forum.

http://www.theiet.org/about/ethics/

Regards,

John Coupland
Manager of Library & Archives


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John Coupland
Manager of Library & Archives
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
 27 August 2009 07:51 PM
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philipoakley

Posts: 256
Joined: 13 December 2001

John,

I have raised a separate thread on the issue of completing the E1 competence evidence box for IEng/CEng applications.

I feel it is an areas that should be explicitly covered, both from a menu item in the web ethics zone, and a link from the Professional Development web zone

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philip oakley
 28 August 2009 10:17 AM
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libman

Posts: 31
Joined: 17 September 2001

Philip,

Thanks, we had seen your posting. We will work with colleagues and volunteers in Registration to address this.

Best regards,

John.

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John Coupland
Manager of Library & Archives
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
 12 October 2009 09:51 AM
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agnessegal

Posts: 159
Joined: 09 November 2001

Readers might like to look at an article in the latest edition of E&T which is about the ethics surrounding assistive technologies. http://kn.theiet.org/magazine/...m-or-solution-0917.cfm

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Agnes Segal
 10 November 2009 01:32 PM
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libman

Posts: 31
Joined: 17 September 2001

A new case study looking at the issue of bribery in procurement has been added to the web zone at:-

http://www.theiet.org/about/et...ues/honesty/index.cfm

Regards,

John Coupland

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John Coupland
Manager of Library & Archives
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
 21 November 2009 11:32 PM
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cmatheson

Posts: 210
Joined: 16 January 2003

Very good stuff here. The only concern I have is the following:

"Members shall not either advertise or write articles for publication in any manner that is derogatory to the Institution or to the dignity of their profession"

Why not? Surely its no bad thing to allow any criticism to be aired and address it on its own merits? Maybe this assumes that if it is derogatory then it can't be true.

What does the dignity of the profession mean?

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Chris Matheson MInstMC
 25 November 2009 04:53 PM
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afwilson

Posts: 793
Joined: 28 January 2002

It does not seem necessary to define 'dignity of their profession', as the words are used with their conventional English meaning. In this context the word 'derogatory' is used with the meaning of tending to disparage or discredit. The Rules of Conduct do not state that 'criticism' is unacceptable.

Originally posted by: cmatheson

"Members shall not either advertise or write articles for publication in any manner that is derogatory to the Institution or to the dignity of their profession"

Why not? Surely its no bad thing to allow any criticism to be aired and address it on its own merits? Maybe this assumes that if it is derogatory then it can't be true.

What does the dignity of the profession mean?


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Andrew F Wilson
IET Governance & Legal Affairs
 26 April 2010 05:18 PM
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agnessegal

Posts: 159
Joined: 09 November 2001

Leeds University IDEA Centre is now offering an innovative online distance learning course in applied and professional ethics, which provides an academically rigorous but practical introduction to the subject for decision-makers and practitioners. The course, which is taught entirely over the web, aims to provide students with the philosophical grounding and ethical reasoning skills that will enable them to think through and address the practical ethical issues that arise in their profession.
The course is highly appropriate for engineers and other professionals looking to develop their understanding of the ethical implications of their work. It makes use of real-life case studies drawn from both engineering disciplines and other areas, such as environmental policy and the computer industry. This gives the course a wide appeal, and allows those taking it to explore how ethical challenges vary across different professional backgrounds.
They are accepting applications for entry in October 2010, for part-time study over two years. You can learn more from the course website (http://www.idea.leeds.ac.uk/maape/) which provides detailed information on the syllabus, fees, entry requirements and application process. In addition, there is an online brochure designed to help you decide if the course is appropriate to your needs.
If you would like more details about the online MA, please contact Sam Thomas on s.m.thomas@leeds.ac.uk.

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Agnes Segal
 26 April 2010 05:20 PM
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agnessegal

Posts: 159
Joined: 09 November 2001

Privacy, Ethics and Public Policy

Taking place on Friday 18 June from 1700 hrs this event takes the form of the "Any Questions-style" panel debate featuring a range of high-profile speakers from the public world including Matthew Taylor (RSA, formerly IPPR and 10 Downing St Policy Unit), David Leigh (The Guardian - journalist who famously exposed Jonathan Aitken), Pauline Neville-Jones (formerly Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee) and Onora O'Neill (2002 Reith Lecturer, 2001 Gifford Lecturer, on trust in public life).

Privacy is central to some of the most important issues facing our parliamentary democracy today. And yet the public response to these issues seems inconsistent. Attempts to defend the privacy interests of MPs over their expenses claims are met with suspicion. But there is also great resistance to sacrificing individuals' privacy for the sake of security. We are hostile to journalistic intrusion, and yet place a high value on investigative journalism which arguably would be undermined by stringent privacy laws.

What is needed is greater public engagement with issues of privacy, and with the complexity of forming consistent, principled public policy. This public event seeks to address this need. To this end, we have engaged high-profile speakers with relevant expertise, for speeches and panel questions on the evening of 18th June, 2010.
For more information visit: http://www.idea.leeds.ac.uk/20...policy-18th-june-2010/

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Agnes Segal
 27 April 2010 09:52 AM
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agnessegal

Posts: 159
Joined: 09 November 2001

Yes, this is true, but it is often more complex than that. The impact of decisions on different stakeholders has to be evaluated and decisions made about where priorities lie. Have you explored any of the case studies?

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Agnes Segal
 27 April 2010 10:44 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: agnessegal

The impact of decisions on different stakeholders has to be evaluated and decisions made about where priorities lie.

I think someone has been reading too many case studies.

Regards.
 09 June 2010 09:59 AM
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agnessegal

Posts: 159
Joined: 09 November 2001

There is an interesting article on robots in warfare on the E&T website. See this link

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Agnes Segal
 10 June 2010 07:27 PM
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garethwood

Posts: 43
Joined: 07 July 2003

As an Engineer based outside the UK, I am interested in the findings of the following investigation with regards to the design and construction of alleged counterfeit bomb detection equipment see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/10269170.stm.

As there seems to be a number of deaths involved in this matter, surely this is prime territory for the IET to also investigate and understand the involvement of the "Engineer" involved, establish his credentials and his professional standing.
Without pre-judging events, this to me looks like the very reason why engineering should be more regulated and professionally and legally bound than it currently is in the UK. Will events like this become more common in the future?
 17 June 2010 03:22 PM
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agnessegal

Posts: 159
Joined: 09 November 2001

There is a challenging letter from Rashid Samnakay FIET in this month's edition of Member News about the ethics of modern warfare. See this page. It would be good to see some discussion of the issues he raises either on the Member News site or here.

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Agnes Segal
 08 July 2010 03:26 PM
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agnessegal

Posts: 159
Joined: 09 November 2001

There are two letters in the latest edition of Engineering and Technology here which explore the issues of risk in relationship to the terrible problems of the oil leak off the coast of Florida. One of the writers is making a plea that all engineering curricula should include awareness of ethics deeply integrated into the teaching, not simply bolted on as an extra on the side. What is your view? Have your say either here on this forum or by making a comment on the E&T page.

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Agnes Segal
 05 August 2010 01:03 PM
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agnessegal

Posts: 159
Joined: 09 November 2001

Peter Brooks MIET, in a letter published in the latest edition of Member News writes
Over the past 18 months we have been bombarded with events that result from companies (and the people that ran them) acting unethically. It does not seem to matter which service or manufacturing sector they operate in. For example the financial sector (represented by any number of the large banks-- take your pick), oil (example BP), automotive (Toyota), electronics (example Dell, Intel under investigation), software (Microsoft Windows IE) drug manufacturing (example Johnson and Johnson).
I regularly receive a stream of emails from the FDA about major drug and medical equipment recalls and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about Consumer products that do not meet federal regulations as they contain lead, cadmium, kill children or accidentally chop their fingers off. Upon reading these alerts it appears that most of the companies were aware of the problems, but continued to ship the defective product anyway.
This leads me to the conclusion, (based on the published and unpublished history), that no company is ethical. Maybe ethics is a goal that can never be fully achieved by any company or any person.
I believe that attempts by companies to set up ethics committees, after they have been caught red handed (such as BAE), is just a publicity stunt and doesn't solve anything.
Ask yourself, have you ever worked for a company that is truly ethical both in the products/services they supply to their customers or in how they treat their employees?


Have your say - either here in this discussion forum or on the Member News site here

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Agnes Segal
 05 August 2010 03:25 PM
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agnessegal

Posts: 159
Joined: 09 November 2001

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics will shortly publish a report on the ethical dilemmas surrounding the production of fuels from biological sources.
Visit their website for further information.

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Agnes Segal
 24 August 2010 12:04 PM
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jimbaxter

Posts: 2
Joined: 18 March 2009

g3xoi

Those are both admirable precepts. I wonder though, would you say it's always an easy matter to know what the truth is when it comes to ethical questions? To take one example, engineers plausibly have a duty to consider the public interest, but a lot of engineers find it difficult to determine how far this duty extends, particularly when it appears to conflict with the needs of clients, employers and so on.

Jim Baxter
University of Leeds
 02 September 2010 03:20 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: agnessegal
Peter Brooks MIET, in a letter published in the latest edition of Member News writes

[...]Ask yourself, have you ever worked for a company that is truly ethical both in the products/services they supply to their customers or in how they treat their employees?


The problem with this question is that it seems to pre-suppose that there is a universal concept of what is "ethical". For example:

    Is it ethical to design equipment which is intended to kill human beings?
    Is it ethical to produce products of poor quality in order to allow customers to afford them?
    Is it ethical to keep your business running by exporting manufacturing to low cost countries?
    Is it ethical to consume large amounts of power in your business, or to produce products which consume large amounts of power?
    Is it ethical to persuade your customers to replace their products every year?
    Is it ethical to pay staff high salaries but to have an atmosphere of intimidation and fear in the company in return?


I am sure that any given group of IET members would disagree - possibly quite hotly - on the ethics of at least one and probably more of these questions. So I suppose that all you can really do is try to find a company that fits your particular world view.

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Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 03 September 2010 09:07 AM
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ectophile

Posts: 528
Joined: 17 September 2001

Originally posted by: g3xoi

Is it ethical to design equipment which is intended to kill human beings?

This comes under Engineering ethics.



Is it ethical to produce products of poor quality in order to allow customers to afford them?

This as an engineering judgement. Your daughter would like her dress to fall to pieces the day after it goes out of fashion so she can buy a new, fashionable one, your Wife has a different view of dress quality.



Is it ethical to keep your business running by exporting manufacturing to low cost countries?



Is it ethical to consume large amounts of power in your business, or to produce products which consume large amounts of power?



Is it ethical to persuade your customers to replace their products every year?



Is it ethical to pay staff high salaries but to have an atmosphere of intimidation and fear in the company in return?



These four fall under management ethics.



This is the Inst of Engineering and Technology not the Inst of everything.


I'm not sure you can wriggle out of the fourth one so easily. from the IET Rules of Conduct:
9. Members shall take all reasonable steps to avoid waste of natural resources, damage to the environment, and damage or destruction of man-made products. Lawful work undertaken by members in connection with equipment intended for the defence of a nation will not infringe this Rule or Rule 8.


That said, "consume large amounts of power" is a bit vague. If you design electric heaters, then your products will consume a lot of power, by intention. If it's electronic gadgets, then they should consume as little power as is practical.

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S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
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