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Exploring Personal, Hyper Actions In Engineering Ethics Having Your Cake And Being Able To Eat It To!

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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

6.493.1 - 6.493.11

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Francis Di Bella

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

Session 2525


Francis A. Di Bella, PE (617-373-5240,

Assistant Professor, Northeastern University School of Engineering Technology

Abstract The engineering profession has been able to maintain its reputation for high professional ethics behavior. The infrequent newspaper article that does reveal a shortcoming in professional engineering ethics remains news worthy simply because they are rare in the professional world. Under extreme circumstances the professional engineer is often tempted to rationalize an ethical position in lieu of not receiving permission to enact responsible action from an employer. The consequence may be for the professional to commit the ultimate sacrifice: needing to quit the job in order to avoid an unethical situation. This ultimate sacrifice affects the professional’s family and may have a long lasting effect on the morale and future discipline of the professional. This paper will explore the methods for a professional engineer to maintain professional ethics while dealing with the diversity of ethical dilemmas in engineering practice. The principle-of- action espoused in this paper is the positive-attitude dictum that is so necessary in any engineering endeavor: that there is a viable solution to every ethical situation just as there must be confidence that there’s a solution to every engineering problem. This paper will explore the ways that engineers can transform a seemingly intangible problem into one that can be solved with professional engineering expertise, thus maintaining professional ethics.

Introduction: During the height of the Vietnam war years, the anti-war intentions of many were clearly expressed with the question: “What if they called a war and nobody came?” This paper’s intent with regard to ethical dilemmas that many engineers face might be stated along similar lines: What if an ethical dilemma arises and all professional engineers refused to “go along”. What if the engineer stands his/her ground, competently, confidently and professionally, simply refuses to participate in any action that will denigrate not only him/herself but also the profession; borrowing a philosophy as espoused in another worn but a powerful phrase (this time from the eighties) “...just says NO!”.

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society of Engineering Education

Di Bella, F. (2001, June), Exploring Personal, Hyper Actions In Engineering Ethics Having Your Cake And Being Able To Eat It To! Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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