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The Engineer as a Professional

• Engineering is predominantly an employee profession - absence of a personal

practitioner-client relationship

• Engineers tend to practice their profession as members of teams, led and managed by
senior engineers who are employees, even though they also assume the role of employers
in many aspects of their relationships with their juniors

• The more senior engineers tend to be concerned with the leadership and management of
large resources of men, materials and finance over which they have control

• It is the juniors who are more involved in the detailed technical practice of the profession;
and technical direction comes from middle levels of the organizational structure

• Management implies responsibility and in engineering management, the professional

engineer is responsible in a very direct sense for control over the resources of the

• Engineering therefore, is a unique profession in which all of the marks of the

professional man have crucial importance:
o he must have high-level skills and he must develop different skills as his career
o he must have a strong motivation for service because everything he does impinges
on the community in some way or other

• The whole community is the ultimate client rather than the individual clients as in the
case with other professions
Ethics and Professionalism

• Engineering is closely involved in human relations and in business and commerce

• A great many of the special problems in personal conduct met by engineers are likely
to arise from this fact

• Ethics means something more than “law” and “morals” , it carries an additional
connotation of “rightness”

• The Code is a statement of the principles of “rightness”, of broad scope and with
enough detail to enable an intelligent man to deduce for himself the course of his own
professional conduct

• The essence of all professional codes is that the professional man must be worthy,
through his conduct, of the trust placed in him by the community and his colleagues

• To act every situation in a manner that will add to the confidence and esteem in which
his profession is held by the community

• A profession is no better than its individual members. If they do not have the
professional attitude and live by the rules of the profession, they have no profession

• Most professional engineers adopt an institutional view of the organizations of the


o deserving, even requiring, the loyalty of each engineer as an expression of his

identity as a professional engineer
o organizations are the manifestation of the professional entity and they require the
giving of effort, loyalty and financial support without thought to direct personal

• Instrumental view of the professional organizations: support is given, sometimes

grudgingly, on the basis of an expected return in some tangible form

• The instrumental view should have no place in the value system of the man who
aspires to true professional status

Code of Ethics

• In every profession, there are various sets of positive qualities. One, a universal set of
qualities which pertain to any job or occupation like dedication, diligence and honesty

• A second set of positive qualities are those which are particular to the job or occupation
at hand

• The third category is professional ethics and this is the category of social and moral
awareness of the implication or effects of one’s job on the wider community and


• Ethics is the study of morality. It studies which actions, goals, principles, policies,
and laws are morally justified

• It refers to moral values that are sound, actions that are morally required (right) or
morally permissible (all right), policies and laws that are desirable
• Accordingly, engineering ethics consists of the responsibilities and rights that ought
to be endorsed by those engaged in engineering, and also of desirable ideals and
personal commitments in engineering

• Engineering ethics is the study of the decisions, policies, and values that are morally
desirable in engineering practice and research

• Morality concerns respect for persons, both others and ourselves

• It involves being fair and just, meeting obligations and respecting rights, and not
causing unnecessary harm by dishonesty and cruelty

• In addition, it involves ideals of character, such as integrity, gratitude, and willingness

to help people in severe distress

• And it implies minimizing suffering to animals and damage to the environment

• As related to engineering ethics, these skills include the following:

1. Moral awareness : proficiency in recognizing moral problems and issues in
2. Cogent moral reasoning : Comprehending, clarifying, and assessing
arguments on opposing sides of moral issues
3. Moral coherence: Forming consistent and comprehensive viewpoints based
upon a consideration of relevant facts
4. Moral imagination : Discerning alternative responses to moral issues and
receptivity to creative solutions for practical difficulties
5. Moral communication: Precision in the use of a common ethical language, a
skill needed to express and support one’s moral views adequately to others
6. Moral reasonableness: The willingness and ability to be morally reasonable
7. Respect for persons: Genuine concern for the well-being of others as well as
8. Tolerance of diversity: Within a broad range, respect for ethnic and religious
differences, and acceptance of reasonable differences in moral perspectives
9. Moral hope: Enriched appreciation of the possibilities of using rational
dialogue in resolving moral conflicts
10. Integrity : Maintaining moral integrity, and integrating one’s professional life
and personal convictions.

Importance of codes of ethics

• Codes of ethics state the moral responsibilities of engineers as seen by the profession
and as represented by a professional society
• Because they express the profession’s collective commitment to ethics, codes are
important in stressing engineer’s responsibilities and also the freedom to exercise
• The essential roles of codes of ethics:

(1) serving and protecting the public

(2) providing guidance
(3) offering inspiration
(4) establishing shared standards
(5) contributing to education
(6) deterring wrongdoing
(7) strengthening a profession’s image
Regulations on professional conducts

• All professional groups have two main characteristics:

(1) Professionals in the same discipline institutionalize themselves into a

professional body with recognized standards of academic and practice
qualifications for membership.

(2) The professional body has a Code of Ethics to govern the conduct of its
members and disciplinary procedures in the event of breach of such Code.

• When we speak of a Code of Ethics, we are not talking about law

• In the Code of Ethics, our concern is with what is morally right or wrong

• Situations which require the Professional Engineer to consider the morality of his
actions arise under circumstances in which they may exist conflict of interest between
the individual professional and any or all of the entities with which he has to interact
i.e. Community, Employer, Clients and/or Peers

• The professional owes a duty of care towards those he serves in ensuring that their
interests are protected, and in this respect, there is a guideline which is what the Code
of Ethics is all about

• The three Professional Engineering bodies in Malaysia have complementary

functions in the regulation of professional conduct

• All three bodies have their own Code of Ethics designed to suit their specific
requirements according to the objectives for which each body is constituted
Complementary functions of IEM, BEM & ACEM code of ethics

The three major Professional Engineering bodies to which engineers may be affiliated are:

1. The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM), which is a learned society registered

under the Society’s Act. Membership is voluntary but the professional standards set by
IEM for membership are accepted by BEM as qualifications for registration as a
Professional Engineer (PE). Most PE is IEM members.

2. The Board of Engineers (BEM), which is a statutory body governed by the Engineer’s
Act 1967 and with which an Engineer must registered before he/she can be employed or
practice as an Engineer.

3. The Association of Consulting Engineers, Malaysia (ACEM), is a non-profit

organization comprising of Consulting Engineers. Its objective is to promote the interest
of Consulting Engineering as a profession.

All the three bodies have their own Code of Ethics designed too suit their specific
requirement according to the objectives of each body constituted.

BEM Code of Professional Conduct are amenable and have clear interpretation because of its
legal connotations and would be enforceable in law. Issues of morality and philosophy would be
ineffective in law since it is impossible to legislate moral or philosophical principles.Therefore,
the BEM code can distinguished between legal and illegal cases. BEM lays down minimum
baseline rules which are enforceable in law and must be observed by all engineers registered
under the Engineer’s Act.

The IEM Regulations on Professional Conduct tend to be general because IEM members
comprise of various engineering disciplines, as well as types of professional employment and
businesses. IEM Code embraces many areas involving moral and philosophical considerations
including public safety & health, conservation of resources & environment, upgrading of
technology, engineers responsibility and the conduct of affairs between Engineer and employees,
clients and peers. There is a provision in the IEM by-laws that disciplinary cases are referred to
BEM for appropriate action.

The ACEM Code is designed to order conduct of Consulting Engineers in areas like advertising
and promotion of works, fees and other remuneration, competition with other members,
submission of bids or proposals and related subject. ACEM members are bound to observe the
Codes of both BEM and IEM (if they are also IEM members) and details rules to govern the
conduct of Consulting Engineer’s business. The ACEM Code is designed to maintain strict
discipline amongst their members to ensure that they maintain their independent professional
status without excessive commercial involvement which may give rise to conflict of interest.
IEM Code of Ethics
o The Code of Ethics of IEM, lays down general guidelines for the conduct of
members vis-à-vis his relationships and transactions with:

(1) The community

(2) The Employer
(3) Clients
(4) Peers

o The IEM Regulations on Professional Conduct tend to be general because the

IEM comprises a very wide cross-section of engineering disciplines as well as
types of professional employment and businesses

o IEM Code embraces many areas involving moral and philosophical

considerations including public safety and health, conservation of resources and
environment, upgrading of technology, assuming responsibility within one’s

o The IEM code also includes the do’s and don’ts in the conduct of affairs between
Engineer and employee, clients and peers

o While the dos and don’ts are clear cut and easily understood, the moral and
philosophical issues can be subject to various interpretation
Board of Engineers Malaysia’ Code of Professional Conduct

o Under Section 15 of the Engineers’ Act 1967, the Board may order the
cancellation of the registration of any engineer, if:-

(1) he is guilty of fraud, dishonesty or

moral turpitude;
(2) he accepts illicit commission;
(3) he fails to disclose to his client any
vested financial interest in his
dealings with the client

o This “Code of Professional Conduct” has the force of law and breach of any of
the rules embodied in the BEM code may subject the offender to penalties
provided for under the Engineer’s Act including the ultimate penalty of de-

o Therefore, in viewing the role of the BEM as a regulating body, its power to act in
law must be taken into account

o BEM code can at best distinguish between what is legal and what is not, and may
be regarded as the baseline or minimum level of ethics that ought to be

o All the rules in the Code except two consist of clear cut “Do’s and Don’ts”

o These rules concern what an Engineer shall or shall not do in the course of his
employment or private practice and are extremely clear cut and unambiguous
o All these rules are concerned with the prevention of situations which may
possibly give rise to conflict of interest between the Engineer, his employer or his

o The other two, Rule No. 25 and 26, are more abstract and tend towards issues of
morality which may have no useful function in law simply because they are
subjective and unenforceable

• Association of Consulting Engineers, Malaysia (ACEM)

o The affairs of the ACE are governed by their memorandum and articles of

o The Association of Consulting Engineers has prescribed rules in their

memorandum and articles of association and these rules are more specific to
Engineers who practice as Consultants

o The ACE Code of Ethics is enunciated under the heading “Duties of Members” as
set out in Articles 16 to 27 of their articles of association

o A study of these articles will reveal that when it comes to practice matters, the
ACE has gone to great lengths to be more specific and detailed than either the
BEM or IEM, and have laid down some clear and strict rules

o This is due to a Consulting Engineer’s excessive involvement in business or other

commercial ventures, especially those which are of a nature related to his practice

o The ACE Code is designed for areas like, advertising and promotion of works,
fees and other remuneration, competition with other members, submission of bids
or proposals and related subjects.

o As for moral and philosophical issues, it is covered by Rule 16 which reads:

“Every member, in his responsibility to his clients and the profession,

shall have full regard to these rules, to the rules of the professional
Institution or Institutions to which he belongs and to the public interest”.
o Code of ACE places an onerous duty on its members to conform to both the IEM
and BEM Codes as well as their own specific rules governing the conduct of
Consulting Engineering business
Applying global ethics in engineering organizations

• Globalization refers to the increasing integration of nations through trade,

investment, transfer of technology, and exchange of ideas and culture

• Global interdependency affects engineering and engineers in many ways as in

multinational corporations where moral challenges arises:

o Who loses jobs at home when manufacturing is taken offshore?

o What does the host country lose in resources, control over its own trade, and
political independence?
o What are the moral responsibilities of corporations and individuals operating in
less economically developed countries?

• Technology transfer is the process of moving technology to a novel setting and

implementing it there

• Technology includes both hardware(machines and installations) and technique (technical,

organizational, and managerial skills and procedures)

• A novel setting is any situation containing at least one new variable relevant to the
success or failure of a given technology: example, the setting may be a foreign country

• Appropriate technology refers to identification, transfer, and implementation of the most

suitable technology for a new set of conditions and it includes social factors