Code of Ethics

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Members of the engineering profession are expected by society as well as by the engineering professional societies to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Each of the engineering professional societies have explicit policies on ethics and ethical behavior written in their bylaws and/or their constitution. Some examples can be found on the web....

Also check out NSPE's Annual Ethics Contest and Ethics Case Studies for additional information about engineering ethics and links to additional web sites.


For example, the following is part of the ASME Code of Ethics as referenced in the ASME Constitution, Article C2.1.1 and posted on their web site

CODE OF ETHICS OF ENGINEERS

The Fundamental Principles

Engineers shall uphold and advance the integrity, honor, and dignity of the engineering profession by:

  1. Using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare;
  2. Being honest and impartial, and serving with fidelity the public, their employers and clients; and
  3. Striving to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession.

The Fundamental Canons

  1. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties.
    1. Engineers shall recognize that the lives, safety, health and welfare of the general public are dependent upon engineering judgments, decisions and practices incorporated into structures, machines, products, processes and devices.
    2. Engineers shall not approve or seal plans and/or specifications that are not of a design safe to the public health and welfare and in conformity with accepted engineering standards.
    3. Whenever the Engineers' professional judgments are over ruled under circumstances where the safety, health, and welfare of the public are endangered, the Engineers shall inform their clients and/or employers of the possible consequences.

  2. Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence.
    1. Engineers shall undertake to perform engineering assignments only when qualified by education and/or experience in the specific technical field of engineering involved.
    2. Engineers may accept an assignment requiring education and/or experience outside of their own fields of competence, but their services shall be restricted to other phases of the project in which they are qualified....

  3. Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout their careers and shall provide opportunities for the professional and ethical development of those engineers under their supervision.

  4. Engineers shall act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest.
    1. Engineers shall avoid all known conflicts of interest with their employers or clients and shall promptly inform their employers or clients of any business association, interests, or circumstances which could influence their judgment or the quality of their services.
    2. Engineers shall not undertake any assignments which would knowingly create a potential conflict of interest between themselves and their clients or their employers.
    3. Engineers shall not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one party for services on the same project, or for services pertaining to the same project....

    1. When as a result of their studies, Engineers believe a project(s) will not be successful, they shall so advise their employer or client....

  5. Engineers shall build their professional reputation on the merit of their services and shall not compete unfairly with others.
    1. Engineers shall negotiate contracts for professional services on the basis of demonstrated competence and qualifications for the type of professional service required.
    2. Engineers shall not request, propose, or accept professional commissions on a contingent basis if, under the circumstances, their professional judgments may be compromised.
    3. Engineers shall not falsify or permit misrepresentation of their, or their associates, academic or professional qualification. They shall not misrepresent or exaggerate their degrees of responsibility in or for the subject matter of prior assignments....
    4. Engineers shall prepare articles for the lay or technical press which are only factual. Technical Communications for publication (theses, articles, papers, reports, etc.) which are based on research involving more than one individual (including students and supervising faculty, industrial supervisor/researcher or other co-workers) must recognize all significant contributors. Plagiarism, the act of substantially using another's ideas or written materials without due credit, is unethical.
    5. Engineers shall not maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, injure the professional reputation, prospects, practice or employment of another engineer, nor shall they indiscriminately criticize another's work.
    6. Engineers shall not use equipment, supplies, laboratory or office facilities of their employers to carry on outside private practice without consent.

  6. Engineers shall associate only with reputable persons or organizations.
    1. Engineers shall not knowingly associate with or permit the use of their names or firm names in business ventures by any person or firm which they know, or have reason to believe, are engaging in business or professional practices of a fraudulent or dishonest nature....

  7. Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
    1. Engineers shall endeavor to extend public knowledge, and to prevent misunderstandings of the achievements of engineering.
    2. Engineers shall be completely objective and truthful in all professional reports, statements or testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such reports, statements or testimony....

  8. Engineers shall consider environmental impact in the performance of their professional duties.
    1. Engineers shall concern themselves with the impact of their plans and designs on the environment. When the impact is a clear threat to health or safety of the public, then the guidelines for this Canon revert to those of Canon 1.


American Society of Mechanical Engineers