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Researching: Ethics and Engineering

Introduction

Through social media, people can keep in touch with each other. It is also used as a platform to network and find career opportunities, and where people can share their thoughts, feelings and insights. More importantly, it is through social media that ethics is broadly elaborated. Ethics describes a system of rules applicable in any professional field, especially regarding technology and its use in society. Here, ethics is equal to how to engage people in the right manner. In the field of engineering, ethics is highly emphasized. It refers to a field of moral principles that apply to the practice of engineering. Further, ethics in this field examine the obligation that an engineer is required to fulfill to their clients and society at large. A violation of these guidelines may lead to disasters such as faulty or harmful constructions, which can cause accidents that destroy property and lead to loss of lives.

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The penetration of social media in electrical engineering cannot be overlooked because it emphasizes the need for an ethical code of conduct that is not limited to technical practice.

Engineering Ethics

Engineers must be constantly aware of their safety and those around them, irrespective of the magnitude of the projects at hand. The engineering standards vary from one specialty to another, although the fundamentals are relatively similar. One such critical field is electrical engineering which deals with the creation of electronics and power generation. It plays a pivotal role in advancing society towards technology and has been an exceedingly revolutionary force. In their everyday lives, most people use power or equipment that electrical engineers have designed.

Rule Utilitarianism of Engineering Codes of Ethics

The use of social media may see the user being attacked due to the posts and content within them. In this regard, the posting of specific issues such as political and religious views may make one be scrutinized. Other aspects such as cyberbullying can also have a wide range of effects. The rule of Utilitarianism says that an action is acceptable both at the individual and social level if it leads to the greatest good. With the application of this rule, some of the posts and that are considered negative are not prioritized. Here, under no circumstance should a negative comment be posted. This is because some of these antipathetic posts may make people feel depressed and also make other people harm themselves.

Engineering problems are more common, and they may negatively impact the execution of engineering activities. While this might be the case, there is a need for a broad application of phases of moral guidelines when these problems occur. Some of these guidelines include stating the problem clearly and getting the facts for in-depth analysis. It is followed by identifying the competing moral viewpoints, which are then assessed critically, weighing their different advantages and disadvantages. The engineer then picks the course of action from the available options that best suit the client’s interest and the general public (Hess & Fore, 2018). Finally, it is necessary to qualify the option taken with facts and statistics whose coverage scope is comprehensive and extensive. When it comes to the application of Utilitarianism in addressing some of these engineering problems, engineers should follow the basic principle of “Act faithful agents or trustees of employers.” In this view, engineers should abide by these ethics even when an exception might be beneficial.

Further, law and order should take their course when some of the serious engineering problems occur. Several views have been proposed to account for disciplines, although the popular one describes it as a field with shared ideologies. Essentially, any group of people who have similar objectives and principles when performing technical tasks needs a common set of rules since their work benefits overlap with other people. Therefore, engineers are bound by set guidelines of professional engineering societies that expect them to act morally permissible ways.

Moral Theories and Virtue Ethics

Social media play an important role in promoting moral theories and virtue ethics. Using various social media platforms has accelerated and raised ethical concerns because the vast amounts of information collected in various companies are giving new insights into the aspect of life. Some of the moral theories that are advanced by social media are virtue theory, Utilitarianism, and Kantianism. These perspectives present helpful information that the point of morality is to maximize happiness produced from every action. Virtue ethics emphasizes that an individual character is the critical element of ethical thinking, other than rules applied or the consequences of various actions. Regarding engineering, several moral theories and virtue ethics have been advanced to examine ethics in this field with the help of social media. As a matter of fact, social media presents various kinds of perspectives that guide the decision-making process for better results. For instance, through advertisements on the social media platforms such as Facebook, engineers are emphasized to serve the public and forego some freedom, especially at the design stage. They are encouraged not to prioritize either their or the client’s interest before the general users and, thus, require philosophical models to impact their practice.

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The engineers equally utilize the engineering products such as electronics alongside direct and indirect consumers. As such, safety is paramount, and it shapes the way science is applied to solve society’s problems (Sorenson, 2019). Nevertheless, there are risks associated with upholding morals, such as losing one’s job since engineers have employers who want their interests to be prioritized. Although there is stiff competition for employment, some workers find it somewhat challenging to resist unethical practices imposed by the management or client, there is a need to apply some of these moral theories and virtue ethics.

Professional Standards of Ethics

Professional ethics are principles that govern behavior within a business environment. They provide rules of how businesses should act towards other people in such an environment. In the engineering field, professional standards of ethics are highly needed. Accordingly, some of the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality, fairness, and equity. As a matter of fact, engineers should perform under a standard of professional behavior that requires adherence to ethical conduct’s highest principles. Some of the things engineers help to maintain, build, and design could result in a loss of life if they put personal advancements and profits in front of people.

An engineer can refuse projects that jeopardize the public’s interest. There are installations and construction designs that, from theoretical analysis, may cause potential harm to the public. In such circumstances, the engineer is expected to consult society’s ethical procedures to narrow down the most fundamental principles for evaluating the situation. Therefore, the issue is contrasted against moral conscience, which automatically reverts the response to the project’s rejection. The individual can provide reasons such as inconsistency with engineering ethics in defense. It relieves engineers of professional pressure to perform tasks that they do not find permissible in the societal context.

In the school setup, the most common unethical behavior from students pursuing a degree in engineering is exam cheating. However, it is not the only issue, as poor participation in teamwork and inability or lack of desire to immediately help others or lying to them are also considered unethical. Moreover, cheating is applicable in office environments where an engineer steals the data about another person and publishes it as their own. Others also use other people’s project files without their consent, especially for documentation (Sorenson, 2019). Working together is highly beneficial to an engineer and positively impacts their career growth and development. In any school setting, the knowledge and particular projects are usually understood at different levels by different people; hence, teamwork broadens one’s perspective.

The Role of Social Media in Engineering Ethics

Social media has penetrated the professional environment, with most people upgrading with the advancement in media technology. It provides a web-based application platform that allows people to interact while exchanging information. It is an inclusive form of digital technology that enables engineers to share ideas with one another and friends, employers, and family. The most popular platform globally is Facebook, followed by others such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram (Abbas, 2019). However, individual engagement may vary at a personal level on social media because of diverse personal interests or geographical locations. Accordingly, it is a tool that plays an essential role in monitoring companies’ activities and their work, thereby conveying professionalism to the public or destroying the firms’ image.

Social media has revealed some missteps by engineers in their practice with common trends. For instance, there is a failure to consider the impact that the wrong usage can have on clients and employers. The interests of the two parties are the engineer’s top priority, regardless of their perception of the issue at hand. They are expected to act in strict professionalism in all their undertakings to avoid or minimize interest conflicts as faithful agents (American Society of Civil Engineers, 2017). For instance, a violation of the ethical provision can occur when an individual knowingly or carelessly uses proprietary information for their interests, and the data may belong to either the employer or the client. When the person posts on Facebook or Linkedin or updates their profile with details of the current project, including the technicalities, it can provide hints to the competitors who can use it to their advantage (American Society of Civil Engineers, 2017). Accordingly, the employee will enhance their professional profile at the expense of the firm.

Moreover, the employee might violate the client’s interests by breaching the latter’s privacy. Inability to keep corporate secrets means that the firm’s interests were not prioritized, resulting in highly unethical behavior. Others equally use social media to cast aspersions on other professionals. In this regard, the engineer breaks the code of conduct, which states that no one should be involved in any malicious act to destroy the reputation or progress either directly or indirectly. However, under American law, public criticism is permissible due to the right to free speech and expression. For example, an attorney in Florida paid fines to his state bar association for posting in an online forum with comments describing the judge as mentally unstable (American Society of Civil Engineers, 2017). It is imperative to note that heedless critique of clients, colleagues, or employers may be professionally costly and immoral.

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Conclusion

Effective communication is central to the obligation of an engineer. Its significance is notable in the principles outlined by engineering societies. The directive category has propositions as the need to speak when there is a pressing public issue regarding health, safety, or welfare. One needs to be always aware of the sensitivity associated with social media. While it possesses numerous advantages, it can also quickly destroy reputation and credibility, leading to unethical practices. Hence, it is necessary for organizations and engineers to continually revisit the ethical codes of conduct required for their practice and handling the projects. Accordingly, engineering’s essence is to support sustainable and safe technological advancement in society, guided by ethical systems.

References

American Society of Civil Engineers. (2017). Social media can hold unpleasant surprises. ASCE. Web.

Abbas, A. E. (Ed.). (2019). Next-generation ethics: engineering a better society. Cambridge University Press.

Hess, J. L., & Fore, G. (2018). A systematic literature review of US engineering ethics interventions. Science and Engineering Ethics, 24(2), 555-583.

Sorenson, J. (2019). Toward a pragmatic and social engineering ethics. Paladyn, Journal of Behavioral Robotics, 10(1), 207-21. Web.

Zhu, Q., &Jesiek, B. K. (2017). Engineering ethics in a global context: Four fundamental approaches. In Proceedings of the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, (pp. 25-28). OH, USA. Web.

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