Engineering, as a profession, has contributed to many of the greatest improvements in human wellbeing throughout history. This is in no small part due to the professional commitment of engineers towards ethical conduct. It is therefore imperative to examine engineering ethics both as a means of guiding proper engineering decision making and as a framework by which engineers interact with the public. In this seminar, we will explore three different sets of ethical theories with emphasis placed on their use in ethical decision making. Using these theories, the distinction between prohibitive, preventative, and aspirational ethics will be emphasized in light of engineering codes of ethics. Lastly, emerging meta-ethical concerns particularly relevant to engineers, such as ethics of the environment and technology, will be surveyed.
Steven Hand earned his B.S. (2013) and M.S. (2015) in Civil Engineering from the Texas A&M University, and is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His current research focuses on electrochemical methods of desalination and techno-economic analysis of desalination processes. He has taught engineering ethics in both undergraduate courses and REU programs since 2013. He was awarded 1st prize for his paper “Is it Ethical to Associate Credentials with Competency?” in the Texas Section ASCE 2013 Daniel W. Mead Student Contest.