Like other professions, engineering organizes itself into self-governing professional societies or associations. A major function of these groups is to define the duties and responsibilities of their members.

Your code of ethics defines your responsibilities to society and the environment, your employer or client, and your fellow engineers. Governments-federal, state, and local-impose added responsibilities on engineers through administrative rules and regulations, and civil and criminal codes.

Yet other engineering obligations arise from technical standards and protocols, business and accounting practice, and in some cases international treaties. Collectively, these embody your responsibilities as an engineer, and it is your professional duty to understand and abide by them to the best of your ability.

Morals vs. Professional Ethics
Morals and professional ethics are different from, but not exclusive of each other. Morality usually implies a set of internally held values, while professional ethics implies a shared understanding of proper conduct guidelines among members of the same profession.

Engineers ought to be "ethically autonomous"-in other words, capable of reaching the same ethical decision as another engineer would in the same conditions, even if their individual morals differ significantly. As an engineer, it is possible, and even expected, that you can attain professional ethical autonomy through study and experience, while also remaining faithful to your own moral convictions.

The Role of the Engineer in Society
Engineers help to shape and impact our society. In this process, they are guided by professional codes of conduct. Professional engineers should internalize these codes.

Viewing the ethical codes as static statements made by other people limits an engineer's investment in the codes. For in reality, codes of conduct are dynamic and the ability to understand and apply the codes should be an integral part of the engineering process.

Learning Modules

In order to integrate professional responsibility and ethics into the curriculum, the school of engineering offers a series of lessons in modular format. These flexible instructional materials are for use by students and faculty.