An engineer is ethically right to leave one company to another even if the new company is a competitor to the previous one. The current working conditions may be unfavorable, forcing the engineer to leave the job. Some customers may feel comfortable to follow the engineer to the new company (Steib 161). Steib observes that professionalism is self- directed rarely controlled by other external factors (161). This implies that an engineer should put in mind the interests of the customers and the two companies since they all deserve a favorable market environment (Steib 162). Although an engineer may decide to move from one company to another, it is completely unethical for such an engineer to try and lure clients from the previous employer. The engineer is only expected to transfer his or her knowledge, skills, and competencies to the new company. Luring customers to the new employer is equal to derailing the past company. As a matter of fact, customers should be allowed to choose purchasing points voluntarily.
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It is not ethically correct for the engineer to use propriety knowledge gained from the previous employer in advancing his current job requirements. When an employee decides to move to a new company to look for better terms of employment, he or she is expected to deliver the best services. In fact, introducing positive changes to a modern workplace is highly recommended. However, ethical rules will be breached in this case, even if the new product is not patented. The transfer of propriety knowledge between the two competitors is unethical because it creates unfair competition. If the new job is not for the competitor, it will be ethical to transfer the propriety knowledge. Nonetheless, it is acceptable and ethical for the engineer to use skills developed from the previous employment because the acquisition of excellent skills depends on the input of an individual employee (Steib 162).
Engineering Ethics and Product Development
Engineers should work together in their profession without considering differences with their companies. Cooperation in the line of duty is vital. Employees should assist each other in their bid to achieve the broad objectives of a firm. When a company wants to develop a product line similar to that of the competitor, it can do so without the direct application of propriety knowledge. If an employee understands the propriety knowledge of a competing firm, it does not imply that the same experience can be used to produce a competitive product because it will amount to unethical practice. In the case, a fellow engineer wants to take the wrong direction in product development whereas I clearly know the right procedure from a competing company, the best measure to take is to offer an independent opinion and guide my fellow engineer appropriately. I will vehemently clarify to my fellow engineer that the procedure being taken will not yield the expected results.
It will be necessary to offer this opinion because my new employer will probably run into heavy losses both in terms of time and financial resources. Independent guidance will ensure that the wrong procedure is not followed and also the ethical standards are maintained. If the new company is not a direct competitor, it will be moral to share propriety knowledge. Therefore, the above answer will obviously change. In the case whereby two or more companies have competing interests, it is necessary for an employee to safeguard propriety knowledge gained from the previous competing employer (Meiksins 418).
Risks and benefits in Engineering
Risk is part of engineering and technological progress. This means that for growth to be witnessed, various risks have to be taken. Before engineering projects are undertaken, cost-benefit analyses should also be carried out (Harris, Pritchard, and Rabins 19). Projects with higher benefits are often prioritized. In some cases, the outcomes are never reflected in the cost-benefit analysis (Harris, Pritchard and Rabins 19).
The construction of the Panama Canal was a very risky engineering project. For example, thousands of lives were lost as a result of yellow fever and malaria infestations. Most of the drugs that were used to treat these diseases were not effective. Hence, it became impossible to retain an experienced workforce due to the high rate of mortality. In addition, heavy financial expenditure during the construction of the canal led to the bankruptcy of the engineering firms and governments that were involved in the project. However, the financial and health risks of the project were less than the benefits brought about by the canal. Ne markets have been opened for global trade through the Panama Canal waterways. Also, vessels that are wider and larger can now be easily transported through the Panama Canal, especially after it was expanded. Billions of dollars are transacted due to the presence of the Panama Canal.
On the other hand, the nuclear power plant projects pose myriads of risks both the living and the non-living matter. It is a clean, safe, and economical source of energy. It can assist in alleviating the threat of global warming because there is no emission of carbon dioxide. In spite of the many benefits derived from nuclear power plants, the risks posed to the immediate environment outweigh the benefits. For example, the health impacts of radiation are cumulative and continuous for thousands of years. Cancer can be initiated by the subatomic particles that travel at high speeds. Exposure to radiation can also lead to gene mutation and complete interference with genetics. Radioactive wastes and nuclear reactor accidents are also extremely risky to all forms of life.
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Harris Charles, Michael Pritchard and Michael, Rabins. Engineering Ethics: Concepts and Cases. Belmont: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.
Meiksins, Peter. Professionalism and Conflict. 2014. Web.
Steib James. “A Reflection on the Rights of Engineers.” Understanding Engineering Professionalism 14.2 (2011): 159-161. Print.