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Applying A Global Ethic In Engineering Organizations

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.199.1 - 6.199.17

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James Globig

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2547

Applying a Global Ethic in Engineering Organizations

James E. Globig University of Dayton


The 1980s and early 90s were times of design and manufacturing “catch up” for many companies. The American consumer began to look to other countries to satisfy their demands as the label of “Made in America” came to be seen as shorthand for increased cost and low quality. In embarking on the new product catch up era, many manufacturers chose to terminate their technical and middle management employees and adopt “outsourcing” as a way to acquire labor, new products, and sub assemblies without incurring the financial and legal risks of designing and manufacturing their own products. This era has left a mark on American industry in general and the engineering profession in particular that remains today. Ethical considerations, although not completely disregarded, have been largely cast aside so that at any critical juncture in decision making, the paramount question to be answered by the engineer becomes “Is it legal?” as opposed to “Is it ethical?” This paper attempts to define a global ethic and applies it to ethical issues commonly experienced in engineering organizations. Finally, this paper outlines how our engineering curriculum can be designed to address ethical issues and includes a case study to illustrate them.

Applying a Global Ethic in Engineering Organizations INTRODUCTION

Much has been written about ethics in engineering. The vast majority of the early and present day contributions in the area emanate from civil engineering, chemical engineering and bioengineering. Not surprisingly, these fields can and do have significant impact on the quality of human life and much of the research exists because of the widely accepted values based on the sacredness of human life. Explicit illustrations of moral dilemmas and widely accepted solutions readily come to mind: We do not design overpasses that collapse in earthquakes, we do not design space shuttles that explode when it gets cold 1 and we do not experiment with human life when the results are not well understood. These “typical” cases of engineering ethics are indeed excellent illustrators of basic moral principles. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the contribution to engineering ethics addresses the engineer only as a designer.

Because of the corporate downsizing of the 80s and 90s and subsequent functional consolidation, engineers have become increasingly integrated into the day-to-day organizational decisions in such areas as product management, marketing, purchasing, and human resources. Many engineers find themselves far removed from directly and substantively

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright 2001, American Society of Engineering Education

Globig, J. (2001, June), Applying A Global Ethic In Engineering Organizations Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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