Let’s Talk about Engineering Ethics: NCEES Rules of Professional Conduct – Part-II
Did you know that the 31st president of the United States was a Professional Engineer? He enrolled at Stanford University when it opened its doors in 1891 and graduated as a mining engineer. His term (1929–1933) was marked by the stock market crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression.
This great engineer once said: The great liability of the engineer, compared to men of other professions, is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. He cannot, like the doctors, bury his mistakes in the grave. He cannot, like the lawyers, argue them into thin air. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents. The “engineer” simply cannot deny he did it; if his works do not work, he is damned! Herbert Hoover
In last month’s article, we started discussing the Model Rules, the important guidelines for professional engineers. As you may remember, these rules were comprised of the following three major sections: (A) Licensee’s Obligation to the Public, (B) Licensee’s Obligation to Employers and Clients, and (C) Licensee’s Obligation to Other Licensees. And we covered the first model rule. Today we will talk about the second and third.
II. Licensee’s Obligation to Employer and Clients
1. Licensees shall undertake assignments only when qualified by education or experience in the specific technical fields of engineering or surveying involved.
2. Licensees shall not affix their signatures or seals to any plans or documents dealing with subject matter in which they lack competence, nor to any such plan or document not prepared under their responsible charge.
3. Licensees may accept assignments and assume responsibility for coordination of an entire project, provided that each technical segment is signed and sealed by the licensee responsible for preparation of that technical segment.
4. Licensees shall not reveal facts, data, or information obtained in a professional capacity without the prior consent of the client, employer, or public body on which they serve except as authorized or required by law or rules.
5. Licensees shall not solicit or accept gratuities, directly or indirectly, from contractors, their agents, or other parties in connection with work for employers or clients.
6. Licensees shall disclose to their employers or clients all known or potential conflicts of interest or other circumstances that could influence or appear to influence their judgment or the quality of their professional service or engagement.
7. Licensees shall not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one party for services pertaining to the same project, unless the circumstances are fully disclosed and agreed to in writing by all interested parties.
8. Licensees shall not solicit or accept a professional contract from a governmental body on which a principal or officer of their organization serves as a member. Conversely, licensees serving as members, advisors, or employees of a government body or department, who are the principals or employees of a private concern, shall not participate in decisions with respect to professional services offered or provided by said concern to the governmental body that they serve.
9. Licensees shall not use confidential information received in the course of their assignments as a means of making personal profit without the consent of the party from whom the information was obtained.
III. Licensee’s Obligation to Other Licensees
1. Licensees shall not falsify or permit misrepresentation of their or their associates’, academic or professional qualifications. They shall not misrepresent or exaggerate neither their degree of responsibility in prior assignments nor the complexity of said assignments. Presentations incidental to the solicitation of employment or business shall not misrepresent pertinent facts concerning employers, employees, associates, joint ventures, or past accomplishments.
2. Licensees shall not offer, give, solicit, or receive, either directly or indirectly, any commission, or gift, or other valuable consideration in order to secure work, and shall not make any political contribution with the intent to influence the award of a contract by public authority.
3. Licensees shall not injure or attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice, or employment of other licensees, nor indiscriminately criticize other licensees’ work.
4. Licensees shall make a reasonable effort to inform another licensee whose work is believed to contain a material discrepancy, error, or omission that may impact the health, safety, or welfare of the public, unless such reporting is legally prohibited.
As always we conclude our remarks with another important reminder. Keep in mind that many problems in the FE and PE exams can be solved by either analyzing the answers or reverse engineering (visit this month’s problem set). Read the options very carefully.
Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E.