The Best Engineering and Business Practices II

By Engr. Mohammad Iqbal Mirza, CEO, Green Leaves

An Engineer is a professional – and a professional is someone who does a job that requires special training, education, or skill or alternately someone who has a lot of experience or skill in a particular job or in an area of activity. We very commonly use the phrase “having a professional approach”. In fact it is a core value that an individual possesses. It is similar to the words competent, considerate, communicative, balanced, positive attitude, self- awareness, aspiring, and inquisitive which stand for values present and speak off to describe someone; these are the set of values important to a person as a professional also.

The present and future of human society greatly depends on the working of its engineers. Millions of people are directly affected. They are either users of products designed by engineers or they are the one who produce and market these products. In any field of engineering, be it computer, energy, aviation, civil, chemical, biotechnology or genetic engineering, the engineers are responsible for making the lives of general public better or worse; and like any other profession, engineering does face ethical issues that necessitate a code of conduct and follow standards which shall bind them to exercise best practices ensuring a safe working environment, the product so produced doesn’t pose any hazards to its users and it doesn’t pollute the environment causing health hazards to public.

Engineer means to design or create using the techniques or methods of engineering, so the design and creation ought to be flawless. It means that an engineer as a profession should design or create a machine that is precise accurate. It also implies that an engineer needs to use his acquired knowledge wisely and faithfully at his job or workplace. The first requisite for an engineer is inflexible accuracy, because it is basic to the engineering solution one expects from an engineer. Inaccuracy and carelessness in engineering leads to failures resulting in injuries and death of humans involved or failure of projects incurring colossal financial losses. Engineering professionals need to be dead honest about their competency level when taking up jobs or projects. The temptation to qualify for a job by an individual and bidding a lucrative project by a company without having the required competence may end up in a catastrophe.

Engineer are meant to employ their specialist skills within their area of expertise in making a significant and positive contribution to the society. It does happen on some projects that the needed skill is not present. In these cases, the engineer is duty bound to ensure that risks are well managed and necessary measures are taken to allow teams to acquire the required proficiency in skills – but above all he has to be honest about the skills gaps and what is not known to them and their team. Another thing the engineers need to have is continuously updating their knowledge in their fields of expertise, because of the trust their clients have in them and in the wider interest of common man. The followings are to be adhered to by Engineering and Business organizations:

  1. No to self-interest. The conflict of interest can be very fatal in maintaining accurate practices. The opinion an engineer puts forward should be objective in its nature based on available data and correct to the best of his knowledge and not tainted by self-interest. It is very common practice that engineer’s judgment is influenced by self-interest, commercial benefit and loyalty to his employer, for instance overlooking safety measures, employing wrong design parameters, ignoring maintenance considerations, compromising on material or quality of equipment selection giving a blind eye to future repercussions. In fact the engineers require to use FTA (Fault Tree Analysis) or similar such as, RBD (Reliability Block Diagram) and Markov Analysis to anticipate what may go wrong and what will be the consequences of that. The conflict of interest emerges when an engineer compromises his professionalism, obligations and loyalties with his organization to serve self-interest that may lead to biased judgm Therefore, engineers shall avoid creating situations where his conduct could be put to question because of decisions taken or judgment given by him.
  2. Honesty is the best policy, we have learned in our school days, yet we see very less of its practical manifestation; and another word integrity is of very high value at the list of our moral agenda such as, allegiance to our motherland, organizations we are attached to; and the causes we emotionally want to uphold in our life. In the life of an engineer or “Engineering Professional Practices” the importance of the highest standards of professional conduct, openness, fairness and honesty has been over emphasized

Honesty and integrity though have different meanings, but when describing an attribute of an     individual both words are used, because it is hard to imagine someone honest without integrity.

The work of engineers’ benefits general public or different groups of people, and because of this they have the obligation to keep these people informed of the relevant facts. The public trusts professionals to receive a complete and accurate information. Honesty is not a matter limited to lying only. They, sometimes, do have to disclose and also to observe confidentiality; it depends and varies from case to case.

Integrity has to do more with ethics, it is above personal interests. Integrity demands resisting pressure and not compromising ethical values and principles that may come from anywhere or anyone – Employers, clients, or colleagues. People with integrity avoid conflicts of interest or, where this is not possible, indicate these conflicts clearly and do their utmost to reject improper influences. Integrity inspires one to work for or influence employers in improving engineering practices at his organization for the betterment of engineering profession and the society at large. Integrity also implies working for change in practices and attitudes that look falling short of ethics. It doesn’t mean an engineer shall only avoid corrupt practices himself, rather he shall work to prevent corrupt practices or professional misconduct around him in the organization.

  1. Environment – The best engineering practices cannot be called the best unless it has a keen concern for environment and gives it due consideration while designing, manufacturing and marketing products. It should be the integral part of engineering practices at all stages of a product manufacturing and post manufacturing cycle. The products, he designs or manufactures are used by human beings as a necessity of life, but these cannot be greater than humanity, the material of products, products and the process of production, all should be the friends of humanity and not its adversaries. The bad or careless engineering practices destroy ecosystem, are responsible for polluting air, water and soil; and this brings about the changes in weather pattern and destroys a number of life species.

The ozone layer safeguards humans, plants and animals from ultraviolet light which is injurious to their health. No doubt, it is important to raise the living standard of human beings, but not at the cost of human’s health and wellbeing, which has more importance. Therefore protection of environment is the first consideration in the concept of sustainable growth in human society. The engineers are laden with the responsibility to emphasize more and more on conservation of resources, recycling and introducing nonpolluting technologies to achieve the sustainable development. Engineers are the only profession to work in reducing use of fossils fuel and make efficient usage of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, tidal or fission breather reactors. Engineers must develop energy efficient resources minimizing waste and inefficiency.