Litmus tests for ethical dilemmas
Engineers are often faced with questions that go beyond structural considerations and into the sphere of ethics. Professional and technical codes and standards, as well as laws and regulations, provide a degree of guidance to help engineers navigate such situations, but for the most part, engineers are expected to exercise good judgment and discretion. Every situation tends to be unique—the engineer’s role on a project, the client’s sophistication, time, budget, scope—and this can pose challenges for engineers, particularly those who do not have extensive experience in evaluating professional practice issues. Handling an ethical dilemma well can have an enormous impact on the cost and length of the project, as well as the interests of employers, clients, other professionals, and the public.