Throughout history, the ethics in engineering practice have been tested with the same mistakes resurfacing. Leadership roles taking over the decisions of qualified engineers. These engineers then have the burden of lives lost on their shoulders, and the families affected get no closure nor justice. The case of the Ford Pinto in the 1970’s being an example of this; 2.2 million cars sold with a petrol tank which could easily rupture, with the cost increase per car being $11 per vehicle to fix (Case Western Reserve University, 2020). This followed a review from the NHTSA which found that 27-180 people died from the vehicle catching alight. This highlighted the issue of leaders in companies taking profit over lives and our proposal would allow an external body to prevent this from occurring.
We aim to promote sustainable engineering through creating a specific UN engineering committee, enforcing a message that sustainable engineering can only occur when considerations to ethical practices are made. We aim to hold corporations as well as governments, accountable for their actions, making the engineering sector more globally responsible.
Research involving human subjects is governed by strict ethical standards, which are moderated by an ethics committee. However, engineering projects and services worldwide can have both a direct and indirect impact on not only the consumer, but the society and this work needs to be subject to equal consideration.
By creating an organisation that has equal international representation it would allow for the standardisation of safety, ethical and environmental protocols. Employees of companies and communities would be able to report activities deemed to undermine these principals of sustainable engineering to an online portal, maintained by the governments of respective countries, leading to impactful solutions through checks, which would occur should an employee report unethical company procedure.
NHTSA - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
UN – United Nations
Case Western Reserve University. (2020, April 21). 5 Disastrous Engineering Failures Due to Ethics. Retrieved from https://online-engineering.case.edu/blog/disastrous-engineering-failures-due-to-ethics