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Building professional value and ethics – EPC Annual Congress

Published: 07/06/2022

Katy Turff, Head of Professional StandardsThe Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) Annual Congress is being held this week (7-9 June), as an in-person event at University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol. This event includes a range of expert speakers and covers topics crucial to the engineering profession.

The Engineering Council’s Head of Professional Standards, Katy Turff, will be part of the panel discussion on ‘Building professional values’ on 9 June. Professional commitment is one of the five competencies all professionally registered engineers and technicians are required to demonstrate, as set out in The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence and Commitment (UK-SPEC).

As part of demonstrating their overall competence, all registrants need to show a personal and professional commitment to society, to the environment and to their profession. This includes adopting a set of values and conduct that maintains and enhances the reputation of the profession. Every registrant has been assessed by their peers for an understanding of the ethical issues that may arise in their role and how to carry out their responsibilities in an ethical manner.

As Dame Judith Hackitt wrote of engineers in a recent ethics article, “Our role is to deliver solutions which benefit society, to act in the public good and to act with honesty and integrity”; technical competence on its own is not sufficient. Dame Judith is giving a public lecture on 7 June as part of the Congress and chaired the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety following Grenfell.

She was also involved in some of the early work done by the Engineering Council and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) in developing the ‘Statement of Ethical Principles’. This contains four fundamental principles and is designed to form the core of the codes of conduct published by the professional engineering institutions (PEIs), which all registered engineers and technicians have committed to abide by.

We believe the Statement of Ethical Principles is relevant to everyone engaged in engineering, and (with RAEng) established the Engineering Ethics Reference Group (EERG) to further embed a culture of ethical behaviour in the profession. EERG is chaired by Professor David Bogle CEng FREng, who is taking part in the ‘Engineering Ethics: a toolkit’ panel discussion on 8 June, and recently published  'Engineering Ethics: Maintaining society’s trust in the engineering profession'. One of the actions in the report is understanding ethical culture in the engineering profession, benchmarking against, and learning from other professions; as part of this work, a survey of ethical practice is currently being carried out. If you work in engineering in the UK, we welcome your views on ethical engineering practice.

Registration for the Annual Congress is now closed, but EPC hopes to record some of the main sessions and make these to be available after the event. Please see the EPC website for the full event programme.