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The statement is the result of wide consultation, both within the engineering profession and with other professionals specialising in applied ethics. It contains four fundamental principles and is designed to form the core of the codes of conduct published by the professional engineering institutions. All registered engineers and technicians have committed to working in an ethical and socially responsible manner in accordance with their institution's code of conduct.
The Engineering Council and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) believe that all persons engaged in engineering at any level, from the youngest apprentice and student, should be educated and encouraged to think and work in accordance with these ethical principles. The statement is therefore offered to employers and to education, training and qualification providers to adopt or include in their curricula as they see fit. The aim is for engineering to be seen and recognised by the public as a trusted and ethical profession.
The Statement of Ethical Principles is underpinned by four fundamental principles:
Engineering professionals have a duty to uphold the highest standards of professional conduct including openness, fairness, honesty and integrity.
Engineering professionals have a duty to obey all applicable laws and regulations and give due weight to facts, published standards and guidance and the wider public interest.
Engineering professionals have a duty to acquire and use wisely the understanding, knowledge and skills needed to perform their role.
Engineering professionals have a duty to abide by and promote high standards of leadership and communication.
The guidance document and a handy wallet card listing the four principles of ethics can be downloaded from the links below. This guidance should be read alongside ethics related information from your institution, such as codes, policy statements and technical guidance.
Building on the joint Statement of Ethical Principles, a joint Engineering Ethics Reference Group (EERG) was established in 2019 by the Engineering Council and the RAEng, under the Chairmanship of Professor David Bogle, CEng FREng and previously a trustee of the Engineering Council. Membership of EERG.
Operating at a strategic level, the group’s overarching objective is to provide advice and a steer to the profession about embedding a culture of ethical behaviour in the profession.
Comprising members from both host organisations and from outside the immediate engineering community, the group reports to the Engineering Council’s Board and the RAEng’s Education and Skills Committee. During Spring 2020, both fora endorsed the group’s baseline Status Report as a reference point for development of strategic priorities and activities, likely to be available in late 2020.
EERG published its report, 'Engineering Ethics: Maintaining society’s trust in the engineering profession' in February 2022. The report was launched at an online event chaired by Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, RAEng Chief Executive, with panellists Professor David Bogle CEng FIChemE FREng, Chi Onwurah MP, Engineering Council Chairman Professor Chris Atkin CEng FRAeS FREng, Dr Ollie Folayan CEng FIChemE, co-founder of AFBE-UK and Maitheya Riva, early career representative from IOM3. The event is now available to watch on demand.
One of the actions in the report is 'Understanding ethical culture in the engineering profession, benchmarking against, and learning from other professions and setting targets for future improvements'. If you work in engineering in the UK, we want to hear your views on ethical engineering practice - the survey is open until 31 May.
Case studies for teaching ethics at undergraduate level
Produced by the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC) for the RAEng, 12 initial case studies have been created as one of the actions from the 'Engineering Ethics' report, "Create ethics toolkits and case studies to support educational programmes and CPD".
1 Business growth models in engineering industries within an economic system
2 Facial recognition for access and monitoring
3 Choosing a career in climate change geoengineering
4 Glass safety in a heritage building conversion
5 Developing an Internet Constellation
6 Industrial pollution from an ageing pipeline and its impact on local communities
7 Power-to-Food technologies
8 Developing a school chatbot for student support services
9 Water wars: managing competing water rights
10 Smart homes for older people with disabilities
11 Choosing to install a smart meter
12 Solar panels in a desert oil field
These case studies, and other resources on engineering ethics, are available on the RAEng website.