As members of their profession, engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standard of ethical integrity. With a direct impact on the public’s welfare, the services engineers provide requires honesty, impartiality, and a dedication to public health and safety.
Professional organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), National Society of Professional Engineers, and even the Texas Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors have created their own code of ethics (COE) as a model for engineers to reference and follow as they fulfill their duties. Although each organization creates unique guidelines for those in their industry, every COE is crucial to have in place to guide engineers on issues that fall within the area between right and wrong.
ASCE recently approved changes to their COE during their quarterly meeting, marking the first update to the code since 1974.
Baird, Hampton & Brown (BHB) Senior Civil Engineer and Past President of the ASCE Fort Worth branch, Austin Baird, recognized the timely decision. “We tackle projects and priorities different today than when the COE was originally developed. Each code should be periodically reviewed to make sure they are staying current with today’s technologies and societal needs.”
Advancing tools and technologies have become part of the risk of having a code that is out of date. ASCE Source Content Manager, Ben Walpole says, “The new code focuses on behavioral intent, rather than creating a list of prescriptive rules, in hopes of allowing the ethical principles to weather any future industry changes.” 1
As some professionals regularly reference their organization’s guidelines, others seek guidance on ethical issues within their industry through training courses and presentations.
Over the years, BHB has become an educational resource for engineers seeking licensing requirements or additional learning opportunities. As part of this initiative, BHB will be hosting its fourth ethics presentation on May 26. Formatted as a virtual panel discussion, this one-hour event will examine a case study from the National Society of Professional Engineers Board of Ethical Review.
For participants of the event, Austin hopes the panel discussion is “a refresher course for engineers that keeps the updates and current ethics criteria at the forefront.”
While areas of each COE seem straightforward, professional development classes like this encourage engineers from every level to regularly review the principles and standards of ethics required to work in this industry.
To register for BHB’s Professional Conduct & Ethics in Engineering presentation, visit eventbrite.com.
Download the ASCE’s new code of ethics at asce.org/code-of-ethics.