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Chapter 6

The Rights and Responsibilities of Engineers

might allow other companies or organizations to gain an unfair competitive advantage Borderline area: how long does confidentiality extend once an employee moves to a new company? .Professional Responsibilities Confidentiality and Proprietary (std of accept) Information Engineers are required to keep confidential certain information belonging to their employer or client Such information. if released.

could keep a professional from meeting one of his/her obligations Actual Conflict of Interest Occurs when a compromise of objective engineering judgment takes place Potential Conflict of Interest Situations which could easily become an actual conflict of Interest Appearance Conflict of Interest    An engineer is paid on a percentage basis of the cost of a design No incentive to keep costs down Distrust can arise form this type of situation Avoid conflicts of interest by consulting company policies and seeking second opinions .Conflict of Interest Occurs when an interest. if pursued.

Environmental Ethics Control the introduction of toxic and unnatural substances into the environment Protect the integrity of the biosphere Ensure a healthy environment for humans .

Resolution Types of Environmental Problems “Cost of Not Aware ” Maintain the integrity of the environment at all cost “Cost-Benefit” analysis Achieve an economically beneficial balance of pollution with health and environmental considerations .

Ethics and Computers Computers as the Instrument of Unethical Behavior   Computers make it easier to perpetrate crimes such as theft from an employer or financial institution Privacy is more difficult to maintain because of the number of personal records stored on and transferred among computers Computers as the Object of Unethical Acts  Computer Hacking  The issuance of computer viruses .

Autonomous Computers Computers which have the ability to make decisions without the intervention of humans Automatic “programmed” stock trading has created brief periods of economic instability Automated military computers which rely on computer sensors and controls to select targets and deliver ordinance are not always reliable The ethical codes described previously can easily be adapted to cover issues pertaining to the use and abuse of computers .

Professional Rights Work-related rights accorded to individuals regardless of their professional status:     Right to privacy Right to participate in activities of one’s own choosing outside of work Right to reasonably object to company’s policies without fear of retribution Right to due process .

Professional Rights Rights accorded to engineering professionals include the right of professional conscience Engineers may choose not to participate in activities which he/she considers to be unethical .

Whistle-Blowing The act by an employee which informs the public or higher management of unethical or illegal behavior by an employer or supervisor. Often seen as an act of extreme disloyalty to the company and to coworkers .

Types of Whistle-Blowing Internal – Occurs when an employee goes over the head of an immediate supervisor to report a problem to a higher level of management External – Occurs when an employee goes outside the company and reports wrongdoing to the media or lawenforcement authorities Anonymous – Occurs when the employee blowing the whistle refuses to divulge his/her name when making the accusation .

When to Blow the Whistle  Need – There must be a clear and important harm that can be avoided by blowing the whistle Proximity (nearness) – The whistle-blower must be in a very clear position to report on the problem Capability – The whistle-blower must have a reasonable chance of success in stopping the harmful activity Last Resort – Whistle-blowing should only be attempted if you feel that all other lines of action within the organization have been explored and shut off    .

Moral Obligation When is an engineer morally obligated to blow the whistle? You may blow the whistle if all of the previous conditions have been met You must blow the whistle when you feel that there is great imminent danger of harm if the activity continues unchecked and if all of the previous conditions have been met .

if it is deemed necessary .Preventing Whistle-Blowing Employers should try to minimize the need for employees to blow the whistle through the following methods     Corporations should indicate a clear commitment to ethical behavior at all levels Corporations should establish clear lines of communication throughout the organization Corporations should provide meaningful access to highlevel managers for all employees so that they may bring concerns forward without threat of retaliation Management should be willing to admit mistakes and should admit to them publicly.

Conclusion  Professional responsibilities   Confidentiality and proprietary information Conflicts of Interest    Actual Potential Appearance   Environmental Ethics Ethics and Computers    Computers as Instrument of unethical behavior Computers ad Object of unethical behavior Autonomous computers .

Conclusion   Professional Rights Whistle-Blowing  Types of whistle-blowing    Internal External Anonymous Need Proximity Capability Last resort  When to attempt whistle-blowing     .