Code of Ethics and Teaching by Example

The Biomedical Engineering Society code of ethics lists the obligations of biomedical engineering professionals in the different lines of work pertaining to the field: those for the engineers performing their professional engineering duties, the ones involved in health care responsibilities, those involved in research, and the ones in charge of training others.

I believe every biomedical engineer falls under at least two of the above categories and everyone involved in higher education and academia, from graduate students to faculty and departmental administrators, falls at least within the last two by being involved in research and the training of others.

The first obligation for biomedical engineers entrusted with the duties of training others says:

“Honor the responsibility not only to train biomedical engineering students in proper professional conduct in performing research and publishing results, but also to model such conduct before them.”

This is what stood out to me the most since I completely agree that everyone (not just biomedical engineers) should be aware that their actions speak louder than words. Humans learn by example, this doesn’t stop after the first years of development of a child but rather carries through an individual’s lifespan, or at least it should to some degree. The best engineers know this and make full use of this way of learning by example to expedite results and plan an appropriate course of action. Teaching by example is particularly important for research advisors and mentors to keep in mind given that they are training the next generation of scientists and researchers and with such great power, comes great responsibility. Graduate students should be looking carefully and evaluating what type of behavior is beneficial for them to imitate and improve upon; on the flip side, they must also be cognizant of the type of behavior they should avoid in order to create positive change in higher education moving forward.