Most engineers will agree that what makes them `tick¿ is the challenge of solving problems. Many will also openly say that their passion and aspiration is to use their skills to make a positive change to the world. The dilemma, however, is that what is good for some may not be so for others. What is a solution in one area, in one culture, in one industry could be a challenge and even a disaster in another.
Relevant professional bodies such as the Institute of Mechanical Engineering, the Engineering Council and the Royal Academy of Engineering are in agreement about what it means to be a professional engineer: someone trained as such, who ensures their competence whilst acting with integrity and rigour and who puts the public good above all priorities, whilst listening and actively communicating relevant information to all stakeholders.
The guidelines otherwise known as codes of conduct help us follow ethical courses of action. But are these guidelines enough?
Professional Responsibilities of the Engineer (PRE) is a core module due to its significance on our professional careers. Engineers are expected not only to ¿understand their ethical responsibilities¿ (ABET, 2000) but also to ¿understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context¿ (Kerkert 1999).
In your degree, we train you to be technically able, curious, creative and ambitious professionals. We are also responsible to prepare you, however, to enter a complex world, where every decision, every action can and will bring about change. Will it be the right change? We should all hope so.
During this course we will aim to equip each of you with the frameworks and tools that you can refer back to, in order to help you reach the best morally justifiable decisions. But the world is very complex to familiarise oneself with all possible courses of action. Therefore, you will also share your view points with the public and in return be exposed to other ideas and feedback and ultimately, inform your final decision.
¿This learning technique is an explicit attempt to disrupt that process and invite a wider conversation for students, most of whom will go on to be practitioners responsible of engineering the future.¿ Dr Bev Gibbs.