CLEAR Program

The CLEAR Program at the University of Utah’s College of Engineering prepares engineering undergraduates for success in their careers through improving their oral and written communication, teamwork skills and ethical understanding.

Important Ethical Concepts to Consider

Professional Responsibility
Professional Competence
Human Research Subjects
Animal Research Subjects
Sustainable Development
Conflict of Interest
Public Safety
Environmental Ethics
Political Activity
Intellectual Property
Outside Employment
Human Rights
Workplace Safety
Academic Freedom
Freedom of Speech
Deception in Research
Cultural Sensitivity
Academic Ethics
Scientific Misconduct
Multiple Relationships

Sustainable Development

"Sustainable development" is the challenge of meeting human needs for natural resources, industrial products, energy, food, transportation, shelter, and effective waste management while conserving and protecting environmental quality and the natural resource base essential for future development.

ALL of Earth's Water

70% percent of the Earth's surface is cover by water but only 3% of that is fresh water. Only 0.08% of All Water is suitable for consumption.

Spheres in the picture above show:

  1. All of Earth's Water (sphere over western U.S., 860 miles in diameter) This includes the water in the oceans and all living things.
  2. All Fresh Liquid Water (sphere over Kentucky, 169.5 miles in diameter)
    99% of this is inaccessible groundwater.
  3. Fresh-Water Lakes and Rivers (sphere over Georgia, 34.9 miles in diameter)
    Water that people and the life of earth need every day comes from these surface-water sources.

From USGS: View the picture full size.

Engineering Codes of Ethics


View the "Engineering Code of Ethics" from your discipline. Compare it to Codes from other closely related engineering disciplines. The Codes of individual disciplines frequently stress unique ethical issues related to the performance of that discipline's normal professional duties.

Each of these Codes of Conduct relates to the interaction of an engineer to others: clients, society, employers, employees, and to the engineering profession. For engineers, Engineering Ethics is not a topic separate from engineering, it is part of the essence of engineering as it pertains to the professional responsibilities that the engineer has with society.



  1. Moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior.
  2. A theory or system of moral values.
  3. The basic concepts and fundamental principles of decent human conduct. It includes the study of universal values such as the essential equality of all men and women, human or natural rights, obedience to the law of land, concern for health and safety and, increasingly, also for the natural environment.

Ethics and the Design Process

It is important that engineers first approach ethical, safety, liability, environmental, quality, and communications issues in the first step of the design process, rather than allowing the design to proceed without regard to these issues.

This allows engineers to address and analyze each element of the problem from the problem statement to the release of the product or service to the customer.

This allows engineers to integrate (naturally) the consideration of ethical and other concerns directly into the design process and to expand the alternative designs to potentially eliminate or reduce problems, rather than simply to react to the problems.

Now is a good time to ask ourselves...

What do we truly believe about right and wrong? What is moral and ethical? Is morality relative? If you believe so, then how much of it is? What is subject to individual judgment and what is not? Ethical conduct is the foundation of cooperation and civilization. What responsibility do we have to maintain a just and civilized society? What is your choice in a landscape where other engineers ignore ethics and get ahead? If you want change, You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Fundamental Ethical Canons of Professional Engineers

(National Society of Professional Engineers)

Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:

  1. Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.
  2. Perform services only in areas of their competence.
  3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
  4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
  5. Avoid deceptive acts.
  6. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.

Obligations of Professional Engineers

Obligations of Professional Engineers:

  1. Engineers shall be guided in all their relations by the highest standards of honesty and integrity.
  2. Engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest.
  3. Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives the public.
  4. Engineers shall not disclose, without consent, confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer, or public body on which they serve.
  5. Engineers shall not be influenced in their professional duties by conflicting interests.
  6. Engineers shall not attempt to obtain employment or advancement or professional engagements by untruthfully criticizing other engineers, or by other improper or questionable methods.
  7. Engineers shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice, or employment of other engineers. Engineers who believe others are guilty of unethical or illegal practice shall present such information to the proper authority for action.
  8. Engineers shall accept personal responsibility for their professional activities, provided, however, that engineers may seek indemnification for services arising out of their practice for other than gross negligence, where the engineer's interests cannot otherwise be protected.
  9. Engineers shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due, and will recognize the proprietary interests of others.

Ethics is an important element in all professional training!
Serious ethical misconduct may result in the loss of professional status
as well as professional income!

Ethics Resources

The links below provide engineering ethics examples, case studies, and various professional codes of conduct. Use these links to help with ethics assignments or just to educate yourself about professional ethical expectations.

Murdough Center for Engineering Professionalism  See the 'Ethics Resources' link for ethics seminars, case studies, and more ... The Online Ethics Center for Engineering & Science
National Society of Professional Engineers NSPE Ethics Reference Guide, NSPE Code of Ethics, Case studies, Consolidated Table of Contents to the Opinions of the Board of Ethical Review, Subject Reference Guide to NSPE Code of Ethics.
Ethics Resource Center Articles, case studies, ethics toolkit, webcasts
Centre for Computing & Social Responsibility Use the search box at the top of the page for access to lots of applied ethics articles
Ethics in Computing Extensive resource covering computer ethics in commerce, social justice, computer abuse, intellectual property, speech issues, privacy, risks as well as many basic ethics articles.

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