This essay offers pedagogical advice for teaching engineering students about individual responsibilities.
In addition to responsibilities of the engineering profession as a whole, engineers have individual responsibilities, such as those to their employer and clients. This section offers pedagogical advice for teaching engineering students about such responsibilities. In particular, it focuses on helping students to mediate among the potential conflicts of obligations that are likely to arise in the course of their work.
Integrating these topics within engineering courses will help students to see first hand the relevance of these issues to their work. Students in design courses can use moral imagination to anticipate moral situations that may arise when working on projects. This section offers information, course projects, and discussion techniques designed to help students learn to anticipate and face the many ethical concerns with which they will be faced as engineers.
As Stephen Unger explains, engineers may find themselves in situations in which they believe their professional obligations conflict with obligations to their clients or to their employers or managers. For example, an engineer may have an opportunity to save the company (and perhaps future customers) money by getting supplies from an unproven or even "shady" supplier. Yet "bad supplies" can potentially put future customers' safety or the long-term economic status of the company at risk. Managers may disagree with a particular engineer's technical assessment of the status of a project. Managers may ask an engineer to work on a project that is counter to the engineer's personal ethics. Managers may not take seriously an engineer's ethical concerns about a project. Managers or other workers may try to usurp the work of engineers; not giving credit where credit is due. Indeed, engineers may find that there are conflicts between obligations to clients and obligations to employers. For example, suppose a client asks for a service and after telling him the price, he says he cannot afford it. The engineer knows he can get the service cheaper from a competitor. Should the engineer tell him about the competitor -- or let him go without getting what he needs? This section examines how such conflicts might be resolved.
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