The study of engineering ethics often boils down to resolving moral dilemmas in an orderly, analytical manner. However, the concern over ethics stems from the role of an engineer, referred hereafter to as a “practitioner”, and the issues that encompass a practitioner’s professional role. Engineering failures result in catastrophic outcomes such as the Columbia disaster, Bhopal gas leak, Quebec bridge collapse, etc. Therefore, it is imperative that there exists an unambiguous guideline for professional conduct and moral duty in a high-risk profession like engineering to prevent loss of life and property. The study of the Code of Ethics explores the roles and responsibilities of a practitioner in the profession and serves as a guideline to tackle moral issues responsibly. “Through the Code of Ethics, professional engineers have clearly defined a duty to society, which is to regard the duty to public welfare as paramount, above their duties to clients or employers.” (PEO) Article 1, section 77 of regulation 941 states “It is the duty of a practitioner to the public, to the practitioner’s employer, to the practitioner’s clients, to other members of the practitioner’s profession, and to the practitioner, and to the practitioner to act at all times with, I. fairness and loyalty to the practitioner’s associates, employers, clients, subordinates and employees II. Fidelity to public needs, and III. Devotion to high ideals of personal honors and professional integrity IV. Knowledge of developments in the area of professional engineering relevant to any services that are undertaken, and V. Competence in the performance of any professional engineering services that are undertaken. O Reg. 48/92” I firmly believe that the Code of Ethics serves as a reminder of duty of care to serve the needs of the public and provide services with loyalty, fairness and integrity. Engineers are the core force behind the technological advancements and ease of our day-to-day life. Due to the high-risk nature of the profession, it is crucial that a practitioner is willing to put his/her career at risk to identify any shortcomings in designs and report unsafe engineering practices to the appropriate authorities. As exemplified by the unfortunate Challenger disaster, seven crew members were killed when the spacecraft exploded within a few minutes of taking off due to NASA’s decision to ignore warnings by the technical team about the O-ring seals. Roger Boisjoly the engineer, failed to fulfill his duty of care by not reporting NASA’s disregard of the issue to the higher authorities, which could have prevented this disaster from occurring and save the crews’ lives (Srinivasan). As indicated in Sec. 77 (1), any services provided by the practitioner is deemed “professional” because it is assumed by common nature that the professional is cognizant and up to date with the knowledge of developments in the discipline he/she is competent in. For example, when team of structural engineers designs a bridge, the general public or the administration rarely questions the integrity of the design. It is deemed safe when it is approved by an engineer and the public relies on the engineer to ensure that necessary safety measures and precautions have been implemented. This is a vital assumption to allow self-regulation of the engineering profession, and set expectations of a practitioner to act with “devotion to high ideals of personal honour and professional integrity” (PEO) I believe that it is critical for a practitioner to be accountable for the services provided and to create an environment that fosters a similar accountability driven mind-set in the profession. For instance, when a surgical procedure is performed by a doctor, the doctor undertakes the responsibility of ensuring the best possible outcome of the patient with the tools and knowledge available to the physician; however, if a structural engineer implements a flawed design, the physician will be risking the life of thousands of patients. A company or a corporation is liable for ensuring the safety of “the practitioner’s associates, employers, clients, subordinates and employees” (PEO). This is done to protect the public against incompetence, negligence and professional misconduct. There were a total of 312,315 work casualties in Canada in 2008 as reported by the Workplace Safety and Injury Board (WSIB). The number includes incidents where employees were injured due to insufficient training or lack of equipment. On May 12, 2010 an electrician with a decade of work experience was struck with piece of rigging device at his workplace, Vanscoy Potash Operations (Calgary Herald). This incident has raised questions about the lifting method used without securing loads. The provincial government was quick to react and banned this method. As a product designed by professional practitioners, it is expected that a constructed design conforms to certain regulated specifications and performs within a certain acceptable level for a specified amount of time. It is therefore, imperative that the work of a practitioner undergoes rigorous scrutiny to ensure potential failures are addressed beforehand. However, failures are sometimes unavoidable or undetected and it is best to learn from the past mistakes to improve future designs. Many of the failures involve a lack of inspection in the design or the implementation. For example, the Hyatt Skywalk collapse in 1981 claimed the lives of 114 people and injured 200 others (Whitback Caroline). The investigators concluded that the preliminary sketches prepared by Jack. D Gillum and associates were interpreted by Havens as final drawings. The design was implemented without performing basic checks, which caused the design’s intrinsic flaws to remain hidden, resulting in the catastrophic accident (Hyatt Regency). The lack of professionalism and competence, as highlighted in subsections iv and v of Sec 77(1), is clearly demonstrated in this example. This catastrophe could have been averted if the engineers acted in a professional, competent manner and verified the design before implementing it. Thus, repeated checks and inspections should be encouraged since they are vital to preventing engineering failures I believe that morals and ethics are intertwined and are directly related to a practitioner’s moral responsibilities towards the public, employer and the profession. “One of the key elements in any profession is the recognition of its ethical and moral responsibilities to its clients, to society, and to the profession itself. Many professions, such as engineering and medicine, declare these responsibilities publicly in a code of ethics and then later require training in professional ethics in order to enter the profession” (Gotterbarn). It is required for a practitioner to put the public safety at paramount importance in all cases. One of the major Canadian bridge collapse happened in Quebec in 1907. The site engineer, Theodore Cooper allowed the work to continue even though “he noticed that the estimated weight of the span was off, on the low side, by almost 8 million pounds” (Ricketts). Furthermore, “the girders had shifted a “couple of inches” and were more obviously bent” (Ricketts). When the senior engineer B. A. Yenser discovered the concerns, he initially agreed, but allowed the work to be carried on the next day. “The bridge structure plunged over 150 feet taking with it the lives of 75 workers” (Ricketts). It is very shocking to see the absence of moral and ethical judgment and the lack of accountability demonstrated by these engineers. Hence, I am a firm believer that Section 77 (1) (sub-sec. iv and v) should be enforced at all times on practitioners abusing their privileges. The emphasis of Hammurabi’s code lies in the punishment to be “an eye for an eye.” However, I believe that PEO should do more than seek vengeance when enforcing these laws in high risk industries. The nature of the disciplinary action should be a mandatory license suspension for a certain period of time, along with suspension of privileges and a steep fine. It may sound harsh, but I think this is the best way to ensure that casualties due to faulty design practices are minimized. “PEO’s mandate, as described in The Professional Engineers Act, is to ensure that the public is protected and that individuals and companies providing engineering services uphold a strict code of professional ethics and conduct” (PEO). The code of ethics is strictly enforced by the members of PEO. For example, on February 20, 1992, PEO won the case against Nican Project Management Inc., because it fraudulently misrepresented the “engineer” title and provided engineering services without a Certificate of Authorization. The court fined the company $1250 per offense and put its services on probation for 12 months. The court also ordered the company to remove the word “engineer” from all its official communication within 21 days. (ES4498). This case demonstrates the enforceability of the code of ethics and proves that they are living words on a page, which all members of the profession have to abide by. The engineering profession has a vital duty to uphold the strict standards that their members are expected to live by. In our increasingly complex world, it might not be easy to make sound moral and ethical decisions, but in a high-risk profession like engineering, it is crucial that these standards are met. It is a practitioner’s principal duty to look after the public’s interest and treat practitioners, subordinates and clients with fairness and loyalty. As described in Section 77(1), the practitioner is required to make fair judgments and be held accountable for any services provided to the public. Thus, I believe that Section 77(1) is a vital part of the Code of Ethics and serves as an important guideline for practitioners.