on February 11th, 2022

Talking about your profession is important, but understanding why it is meaningful to you makes it powerful.

Engineers Week, celebrated at the end of February every year aims to answer the question; What do engineers do, and why is it important?

It is noted that many aspects of scientific knowledge are transitory, in that it changes when theories change or discoveries are made. It can be argued that science itself has a history of failures that can be learned from. 

Engineers on the other hand are tasked to apply science to the world, and that task means they need to get the job done (and their knowledge needs to work). 

In a philosophical sense, engineering knowledge is task-oriented. 

The application of engineering knowledge, that stems from what engineers have learned from books, courses, modules and work experience is all part of them getting their jobs done, engineering is something that has a history of knowledge of things that work.

Engineers, the author concludes, know how to get the job done – and it is the reason engineers are celebrated on days like World Engineering Day.

What makes an engineer?

Engineering is a profession that involves the application of math and science for the needs of humans, and that’s why engineers rely on education in different means of delivery to excel in this almost mandate of engineering.

Responsibility of engineers

As with any job, certain responsibilities come with your work, when it comes to engineering there are also moral roles that need to be considered. 

One striking paper is What does engineering ethics involve? And it breaks down the societal function of engineers in the world today effectively.

Academically it’s deemed that one requirement of completing a task related to engineering and technical results within that task is that research and an impartial argument of its importance have taken place.

One of the other major responsibilities of engineering is to keep their client data safe, but it’s important for engineers to also have tackle any matters of misconduct outside of their companies and make sure their actions won’t put community health and security at risk.

Engineers’ technical proficiency should always be up to date.

Not only should engineers be proficient and behave with a profession, but they should also only take on challenging assignments with precise aptitudes and knowledge when they can deliver on them. 

This shouldn’t scare off young engineers. When they’re tasked with something and their practical knowledge for instance is lacking, they should mention it and still be able to learn on the job.

If someone lies about their experience they face liability when not being honest.

All in all, the paper believes that solid education and work experiences give specific insight into what engineers need to know about their obligations and responsibilities within their invidious jobs as well as within society.

Engineering ethics the paper believes can be regarded as the identification, training and solving ethical difficulties that come with an engineering career. 

Technical abilities and knowledge are two of the main requirements in any engineering job and when combined with work ethic and work approaches create an engineer that has sound values and judgement and people that lift the engineering profession.

The starting blocks to becoming a responsible engineer

Academic integrity during your course work when completing an engineering qualification seems to be the best way to learn practical skills when it comes to having integrity as an engineer. 

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

According to Plagiarism and Academic Integrity plagiarism seems to still be the most prevalent part of academic integrity that needs to be addressed, and a lot of that stems from education providers that can guide students.

At EIT Iris Invigilation has been a cornerstone of assuring integrity among students.

Because of the international student body, with most students completing their courses online, Iris is a way to alert staff to suspicious behaviour or activity.

The software can detect academic misconduct and identify incidents of cheating.

Faculty Perspectives about Incorporating Academic Integrity into Engineering Courses also believes it’s important to acknowledge that engineering institutions and faculty members play a crucial role in academic integrity among engineering students. 

Studies referenced by the paper alludes that academic misconduct is high among engineering students, and there is a need for educators to ensure students get the best opportunities to understand educational ethics.

Research shows that professors and lecturers that emphasize academic integrity see less dishonesty from students. 

This is also where student support comes in, and at EIT Learning Support Officer’s (LSOs) for online and on-campus students have access to support, encouragement, and a go-to person when they’re unsure of anything. 

If you choose to study a professional certificate, vocational graduate certificate, diploma, or advanced diploma, one person is dedicated to you for the duration of your studies. Students studying our higher education programs will have a committed LSO for each unit of study.

This means there’s always someone able to tick the boxes when it comes to academic work to ensure mistakes like plagiarism doesn’t take place.

Academic Integrity to Engineering Ethics

A seminal paper on the virtues and value of academic integrity summarizes that all students should appreciate and have knowledge on the problems of dishonesty in academia.

For the author, the ethical problems in academics are useful to illustrate the ethical problems within the engineering profession, and the two go hand-in-hand for students to understand and apply basic concepts of ethics in their professional realm.

What engineers should become then is ethical students and workers with high integrity to be able to create, adapt and change the world.

References:

Ban, Andreea & Bucur, Mihaela. (2018). What Does Engineering Ethics Involve?. 15 (XXXII).

Liu, Shiyu & Zappe, S.E. & Mena, I.B. & Litzinger, Thomas & Hochstedt, Kirsten & Bertram Gallant, Tricia. (2015). Faculty perspectives about incorporating academic integrity into engineering courses. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings. 122.

Vesilind, P.. (1996). Using Academic Integrity to Teach Engineering Ethics. Journal of Engineering Education. 85. 10.1002/j.2168-9830.1996.tb00206.x.

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