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Ethics In Engineering Essay

1446 words - 6 pages

If the situation arose, would you give up your seat on a bus for a blind person? Would you open a door for someone who needed assistance or even help an elderly person cross the street? There are no written laws in the United States Constitution that state you should open a door for a pregnant woman or keeping the door held open for the person walking behind you. Yet, people do. What binds us to do so? Overtime, we as humans have come to adopt and except a common code, a code of ethics. This code tells someone what they perceive to be right or wrong based on personal learning, beliefs and self moral; telling him/her what to do in certain moral holding situations. In the realm of business, ...view middle of the document...

Davis’ first argument to why engineers should take into account professional responsibilities is to "hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public”1 over that of the engineer’s own companies sake. Why is this important? Imagine a world where faulty buildings and bridges were constructed only to crumble to pieces taking the lives of many because overtime safety precautions were eliminated in order to save money. What’s to stop those engineers from continued failed construction in the future if responsibilities aren’t taken? More innocent lives could be taken just because a company wants to turn a profit by eliminating some safety precautions. The dilemma that caused Davis to question professional responsibilities is known to be the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion where faulty O-rings were discovered on the rocket boosters but still were disregarded in order to launch on schedule: even though it was well known that the faulty O-rings could potentially cause the Challenger to explode. The Vice President of Engineering assigned to the building of the Challenger Shuttle boosters, Robert Lund, initially postponed the launch due to the faulty O-rings but was asked to reconsider and “take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat.”1 Lund was asked to reconsider because Morton Thiokol, the company responsible for the building of the rocket boosters for the Challenger Shuttle, was under a lot of heat because of numerous delayed launches, profit cuts, and political pressure from then President Ronald Reagan. In the case of Davis’ argument, Lund thinks like a manager, putting logistics and reputation above all instead of safety. Putting safety second to business potentially will backfire and create huge company consequences that could quite possibly drive them into the ground. Last April, another event happened that would forever change the engineers look at cutting costs: the BP Oil Spill. On January 5th, 2011 the White House oil spill commission released a report that concluded, “Whether purposeful or not, many of the decisions that BP, Halliburton, and Transocean made that increased the risk of the Macondo blowout clearly saved those companies significant time (and money).” In the case of these companies, they thought by cutting a few corners here and a few corners there, they could save money and time. To these corporations, turning a bigger profit was more important than the safety of the public and now almost a year later the corporations, the public, and the environment are still reaping the consequences of their actions.
Davis’ last argument was that it would help secure and create a better working environment where engineers could feel safe making the judgments and decisions they think are right. If pressured, an engineer could almost literally be forced to make the wrong decision, causing potential danger to the public. In the case of the Challenger explosion, it was known that Robert Lund and his team of...

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