Ethics and Professional Responsibility
As engineers, we have knowledge and skills well beyond those of most consumers of our work, who must trust us to produce systems that operate safely, reliably, and with minimal negative impact. Human lives can depend upon the quality of our work, and significant economic and environmental consequences can result from the things that we do. Therefore, we as engineers must always have an awareness of not only the benefits but also the dangers and limitations of systems that we design. We must never put forward results that we have not thoroughly evaluated, and we must never conceal the shortcomings of our products. This is the fundamental responsibility of our profession to our society.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers has adopted a Code of Ethics which you may read at this link: http://files.asme.org/asmeorg/Governance/3675.pdf
An extended tutorial on how to apply the ASME Code of Ethics is available at this link: http://www.professionalpractice.asme.org/transition/ethics/index.htm
In a business environment, professional integrity has serious ramifications for a company's success. A business that develops a poor reputation in this area is likely to lose customers. Moreover, a lack of professional integrity in products, services, or transactions can have legal consequences of grave significance, potentially resulting in civil or criminal penalties for the company or its employees. As a result, most businesses adopt firm standards of professional conduct for their personnel. For example, the General Electric Company provides its staff with a 60 page booklet that lays out GE's Code of Conduct and its application in various situations.
For engineering students, professional responsibility begins with ethical conduct on classroom assignments, and it extends to the careful assessment of engineering designs and analyses executed at MIT. The Mechanical Engineering Faculty expect our students to cultivate a sense of professional responsibility while at MIT and to follow standards of ethical conduct in their class work. To aid students in understanding what conduct is not ethical, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has prepared a handbook of academic integrity which available at this link: http://web.mit.edu/academicintegrity/
We, the Mechanical Engineering Faculty, take great pride in the accomplishments of our graduates, and we encourage all of our students and graduates to uphold the highest standards of professional integrity.