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Ethics and Professionalism in Engineering 

Ethics and Professionalism in Engineering

Written by: Richard H. McCuen & Kristin L. Gilroy

Publication Date: March 22, 2011
252pp • Paperback / PDF / ePub
ISBN: 9781551112831 / 1551112833

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The rapid pace of technological change constantly gives rise to new ethical dilemmas, and engineers must be as well versed in societal values and ethics as they are in the technical concepts of their disciplines. Ethics and Professionalism in Engineering provides a practical introduction for engineering students that emphasizes ethical decision-making. McCuen and Gilroy situate engineering ethics in the wider context of business and environmental ethics and guide students through case studies emphasizing value conflicts often encountered in engineering.


"The authors have done a terrific job of addressing the essential elements of engineering ethics. The organization and presentation is logical and reasonable, and this will appeal to engineering students as well as practicing engineers." - P. Aarne Vesilind, Emeritus Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Bucknell University

Richard M. McCuen is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland. Kristin L. Gilroy is a graduate student and research assistant at the University of Maryland in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]

Chapter 1: Introduction


General Characteristics of Value Conflicts

Naïve Decision Making

Elements of Ethical Dilemmas

Characteristics of Unethical Conduct

Values Relevant to Unethical Conduct

Dimensions of Professionalism

Discussion Questions


Chapter 2: Values in the Engineering Profession


Values and Value Systems

  1. Good vs. Bad Values?
  2. Value Systems: A Definition

Value Input Sources

  1. Personal Value Input Sources
  2. Professional Value Input Sources
  3. Technology and Values

Values and Career Development

Incorporating Values with Technical Issues

Values in Decision Making

Values and Scientific Freedom

Discussion Questions


Chapter 3: Professional Codes of Ethics


Fundamental Standards of Conduct

Values in Codes of Ethics

Unwritten Rules of Conduct

Organizational Codes of Ethics

  1. Issues in Drafting an Organizational Code
  2. Enforcement of a Code
  3. Purposes of a Code
  4. What a Code of Ethics Is Not
  5. Analyzing a Code of Ethics

Codes of Ethics and the Environment

Conflict of Interest

Discussion Questions


Chapter 4: Value Decision Making


Values in Decision Making

Decision Processes

  1. Identifying the Problem
  2. Identifying Available Resources and Constraints
  3. Specifying Alternative Solutions
  4. Establishing the Decision Criterion Function
  5. Evaluating Each Alternative and Implementing the Best Solution

Value Decision Processes

  1. Benefit-Cost Decision Making
  2. Value Decision Making from a Benefit-Cost Perspective

Risk and Values

  1. Quantifying Risk
  2. Risk Reduction
  3. Benefit-Cost Analysis in Evaluating Risk
  4. Values in Evaluating Risk

Pressure: Its Role in Unethical Conduct

  1. Internal Pressure
  2. External Pressure
  3. Responding to Pressure


Resolving Ethical Dilemmas

  1. Whistleblowing to Resolve Ethical Dilemmas

Irrational Value Decision Making

Leadership and Value Decision Making

Concluding Case Study

Discussion Questions


Chapter 5: Ethics in Leadership


Ethics and Professionalism: A Leaders Perspective

Ethics and Organizational Leadership

Ethical Implications for Leadership Style

Values, Ethics, and Power

Leadership and Decisions

  1. Decisions About Ethics and Resource Allocation
  2. Decisions About Ethics and Mediation

Discussion Questions


Chapter 6: Business Ethics


Business Values

  1. Confidentiality
  2. Gratuities
  3. Contract Underbidding
  4. Bid Rigging
  5. Kickbacks
  6. Resume Padding

Preventing Fraudulent Conduct


Concluding Case Study

Discussion Questions


Chapter 7: Environmental Ethics


Values and the Environment

Ethical Dimensions of Environmentalism

Tragedy of the Commons

NIMBY as a Value Issue

The Anthrosphere

Causes and Effects of Pollution

  1. Water Pollution
  2. Air Pollution
  3. Ground Pollution
  4. Values Involved in Pollution
  5. Decisions Involved in Decreasing Pollution


  1. Benefits of Forested Areas
  2. Human Causes of Deforestation
  3. Possible Solutions
  4. Factors Involved in Deforestation Solutions
  5. Values Involved in Deforestation Solutions

Climate Change

  1. Our Role in Climate Change
  2. Effects of Climate Change
  3. Decisions Involved in Climate Change
  4. Values Involved in Climate Change


  1. Values Involved in Biodiversity
  2. The Value of Nature

Environmental Ethics and Engineering

Discussion Questions


Chapter 8: Ethics and Sustainability


Values and Sustainability

Varieties of Sustainability

Components of Sustainability

  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Food
  4. Materials

The Industrial Cycle and Sustainability

  1. Stakeholders
  2. Values Within the Industrial Cycle

Potential Solutions

  1. Public Policies and Regulations
  2. Research and Development

Sustainable Development and Codes of Ethics

Uncertain Aspects of Sustainability

Discussion Questions


Chapter 9: Ethics in Research


Ethical Issues in Written Communication

  1. Plagiarism
  2. Self-Plagiarism
  3. Dual Submission
  4. Acknowledgment of Assistance
  5. Ghost Authorship

Accuracy in Reporting

Falsification of Research Data

Data Fabrication

Ethical Issues in Mentoring

Concluding Case Study

Discussion Questions


Chapter 10 Cyberethics


Computers and Value Responsibilities

Computer-Assisted Errors

Computer Image Enhancement

Computer Privacy

Software Piracy

  1. Shareware
  2. Values and Software Piracy

Intellectual Property

Discussion Questions


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Ethics and Professionalism in Engineering

2011 • 252pp • Paperback • 9781551112831 / 1551112833

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Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.