As an aspiring engineer, I had to pass a written exam on law and ethics as part of the requirement for license with the Professional Engineers Ontario (Canada). The ethics portion of the exam dealt with the Code of Ethics that must be followed by all licensed engineers. It can be found at this link: http://peo.on.ca/index.php?ci_id=1815&la_id=1
Some key points from the Code:
- Fidelity to public needs; safety and welfare are paramount
- Fairness and loyalty to client, employer, employee and associates
- Competence in area of practice
Maintaining the license requires abiding by the Code of Ethics, enacted by law (Professional Engineers Act). Thus, unethical misconduct could result in the suspension or revocation of the license and right to practice.
When I graduated from undergraduate civil engineering at the University of Toronto, I participated in the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer. I have taken an oath not to divulge the ceremony details, but the outcome was that I wear an iron ring (choice of stainless steel or cast iron) on the pinkie of my working hand. The ritual was initiated in 1922, catalyzed by the Quebec Bridge disaster – a result of the negligence of practicing engineers. The iron ring’s presence on the working hand serves to remind the engineer that his or her work has consequences, and thus the engineer has ethical obligations to the public.