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Ethics: The Impact on Engineers


Learn about situations that might lead to ethical and legal issues and how to apply ethics, law, and sound judgment to decision making.

Engineering work involves high levels of responsibility with satisfaction, profit, and can offer advancement from successful projects that meet needs of people and nature. However, engineering work also involves ethical and legal dilemmas that can cause loss of jobs, business, money, reputations, and licenses to practice. It can involve lawsuits, investigations, or official inquiries and, in extreme cases, indictments, trials, and convictions based on civil or criminal law. Most engineers do not experience such situations, but avoiding them requires knowledge, experience, and judgement. The maze of ethical and legal norms and rules arising in situations can be confusing, but engineers can be equipped with basic knowledge through a framework of situations, rules, and guidelines that will enable them to avoid mistakes and provide guidance to other stakeholders in the arenas where engineers practice. These involve a hierarchy from things that you must do to achieve compliance to those that you should do in areas of choice based on codes of ethics and situations where practitioners have discretion. Situations range from planning through implementation and regulation, and include activities of multiple players.



Neil S. Grigg

Neil S. Grigg

Colorado State University

Neil Grigg

  • Consultant in public works industry in US and other countries
  • State government service with responsibility for environmental regulation
  • Legal experience as Supreme Court appointee and as expert witness
  • Graduate of US Military Academy with experience as Corps of Engineers officer
  • University experience with conflict resolution involving diverse employee issues
  • Involvement in faith and volunteer communities, including Rotary Club
  • Professional association involvement in workforce mentoring program

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