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Steve is an examining engineer. It is his responsibility to review and sign off the reports of inspectors who make visual examinations of building construction. These reports are intended to identify any defects and to monitor the rate of deterioration of any previously identified defects. All reports should be accompanied by photographs that support the written information.

Steve is one of a number of examining engineers who work together in a team, and he has become concerned that one of his colleagues, Jack, may not be conducting his work to a standard that Steve thinks is appropriate. The engineers have worked together for many years, and consider each other to be friends, but Steve has noticed what seems to be an increasing lack of interest from Jack in his job. To back this up, Jack has made light -warted remarks about the lack of detail in the reports that he is given and the poor quality )f the photographs he receives and has given the impression that he signs them off anyway.

Given the possible impact of this behavior on the critical safety of building construction, Steve is considering to report his suspicions to the regional manager at the company. However, Steve is in a dilemma since even if Jack is signing off reports in the way that he suspects, he is not sure that this constitutes a breach of Jack's duty of care. After all, Steve has in the past come across construction inspectors who only submit detailed reports and comprehensive photographs when there is something significant to record. He can also remember times in the past where he has assumed that a lack of detail simply meant thatpo Ogg*. had been found. 

The Importance of Engineering Profession Ethics

Engineering outcomes are always practical, making things that are usable in everyday living. Building construction is an excellent example of an industry that requires the expertise of an Engineer. Engineers become reliable based on their knowledge of science and mathematical computations as well as imaginative reasoning, judgment, and skill from experience (Harris Jr et al., 2013). As much as everyone focuses on the benefits of creating something, for example, the construction firm may be looking forward to the timely completion of its project to earn from it, there is another aspect of risk that is so essential and cannot be ignored. When the situation especially involves the natural environment and human life, an Engineer has to be careful always in his or her judgment. Hence the need to promote engineering profession ethics, which constitute acceptable standards of personal and corporate behavior, values and guiding principles.

Jack has to understand that engineering is considered an essential profession in society. As a member of this profession, he is expected to display the highest standards of honesty and integrity. He should always remember that his decisions as an Engineer impact the quality of life for people. Accordingly, his services require honesty, equity, impartiality and must be devoted to protecting the public health, safety, and welfare (Vee & Skitmore, 2003). To be able to boost his ethical conduct, he needs to adhere to a set of standard professional behavior National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) code of ethics. The following paragraphs will be analyzing each code and relate with Jack's character.

The first canon in fulfillment of engineering profession duty is, “Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.” ("Code of Ethics | National Society of Professional Engineers," 2018). If Jack’s judgment is overruled in the face of circumstances that endanger human life, he is required to notify his employer or any other authority deemed appropriate.  As his fellow examining Engineer, he could as well ask for my honest opinion. My job and that of Jack is to review and append our signatures in the reports that we receive from inspectors responsible for visual inspection of the construction. It is, therefore, our responsibility to ensure that the report is accurate and not in any way misleading. As a matter of fact, in our positions, we are much better placed to deny approval of the documents that fail to conform to applicable standards.

The second cannon is that as Engineers we should act as faithful agents to our employer, in this case, the construction firm. This rule of practice encourages us to disclose all potential conflicts of interest that influence our judgment and the quality of the services we offer. We, therefore, need to judge the situation and give our recommendation.  In the case of the reports that Jack receives, he needed to highlight the problem, for example, the lack of detail in the report, and give a recommendation, perhaps for the officer to be given a new camera.

The third cannon requires that Engineers avoid deceptive acts. By this rule, we are expected not to offer, solicit or receive whether by direct means or indirectly any contribution meant to influence the award of a contract or which may be reasonably assumed by the public to having the intention of influencing the award of a contract or extension thereof. As long as the reports are signed, the construction firm management will assume everything is okay in the project and even purpose to reward the inspectors without knowing the problem that exists. So Jack should be directing the firm management to deal with the problem.

Analyzing the National Society of Professional Engineers Code of Ethics

Furthermore, it is our professional obligation not to injure directly or indirectly the professional reputation of other Engineers. If one believes another is guilty of unethical practice, then he or she should forward such information to the relevant authority for proper action. In private practice, Engineers should not review another Engineer’s work for the same client without the knowledge of such Engineer unless he or she has no further connection with the work (Baggini, J., & Fosl, 2007). Meaning that instead of Jack making light-hearted remarks of the Inspector's job, he should have invited the Inspector to review his job together and then tell him directly his concerns.

Apart from upholding the code of ethics, there are also a set of personal moral principles that an employee should use to build a strong work ethic. The fact that Jack’s loss of interest in his job is noticeable tells of one whose work ethic has grown weak.  The following factors demonstrate a strong work ethic and are what Jack needs to sharpen an edge in his career; integrity, sense of responsibility, emphasis on quality, teamwork, and accountability.

Integrity covers all aspects of a career person. An employee that has integrity builds a trusting relationship with employer, clients, and coworkers. Coworkers desire honest feedback and clients trust the advice granted by the employee. The employer, on the other hand, relies on the employee's high moral standards, and trust him not to create problems (Whitbeck, 2011). Jack, therefore, needs to develop integrity to sustain an excellent relationship with employer and coworkers especially. His subordinate, the inspector, also looks up to his correction, so when Jack fails to correct him, then he will become used to the mistake as his respect for Jack goes down.

Responsibility regards how an employee works and the amount of work he does. It is a natural feeling of one's job performance that motivates him to do his job well, put in his best effort and complete a project to the best of his ability. Jack, in this case, has a weak sense of responsibility, where he fails to do a follow up on the inspection process, find out the reason why he is not getting detailed information from the reports he is receiving. I would, therefore, advice Jack to develop a strong sense of responsibility as an examining Engineer.

I would advise Jack to emphasize on quality for a strong work ethic. He is only doing the bare minimum as an examining Engineer, which from what he has implied, is just enough to keep his job intact. He should instead care about the quality of his work, not just signing off the reports for the sake of it, but first verifying things in detail, even go back to the field with the inspector and confirm for himself before approving. Jack's way of doing things sustains negligence, not quality. If anything goes wrong, then it would be as a result of his negligence.

To develop a strong work ethic, we need to have a sense of teamwork. Jack and I have a common task of examining inspection reports, verify that what the situation is the field is accurately presented before approving them. It is, therefore, my responsibility as it is Jack's to ensure that our team meet its goals and attain quality work. As teammates, it is necessary to correct each other, help out where possible for our collaborations to be smoother. I would, for example, reach out to the Inspector that delivers poor work on his behalf and attempt to correct him, for the sake of achieving the objectives of the firm that has employed us.

A strong work ethic is also realized through accountability. We need to own up for our actions and take responsibility for every arising outcome out of our decision. It is proper to admit mistakes and learn from them so not to make them again (Passow, 2012). One also expects his juniors, people he is overseeing, for example, the Inspector, to meet the same high standards and should support them in their responsibility instead of blaming them. Jack should, therefore, find a way of being accountable so that he encourages the Inspector.

References

Baggini, J., & Fosl, P. S. (2007). The ethics toolkit: A compendium of ethical concepts and methods.

Code of Ethics | National Society of Professional Engineers. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics

Fleddermann, C. B. (1999). Engineering ethics (Vol. 4). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Harris Jr, C. E., Pritchard, M. S., Rabins, M. J., James, R., & Englehardt, E. (2013). Engineering ethics: Concepts and cases. Cengage Learning.

Markes, I. (2006). A review of the literature on employability skill needs in engineering. European Journal of Engineering Education, 31(6), 637-650.

Passow, H. J. (2012). Which ABET competencies do engineering graduates find most important in their work?. Journal of Engineering Education, 101(1), 95-118.

Performance Tips: Developing a Strong Work Ethic. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/performance-tips-developing-strong-work-ethic

Schwatz, A. E. Engineering Ethics: The Basics. National Society of Professional Engineers.

Vee, C., & Skitmore, C. (2003). Professional ethics in the construction industry. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 10(2), 117-127.

Whitbeck, C. (2011). Ethics in engineering practice and research. Cambridge University Press.

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