Engineering stronger ethics

Ethicists at the University of Leeds have developed a vision for a new ethical framework which states the focus of an engineer is to serve the public interest.

Engineers in the UK are being asked to comment on the plan, which aims to strengthen ethical thinking in their profession.

Engineering Ethics 2028 describes a proposed new ethical framework for the profession and how it can be introduced over the next nine years. Individuals and organisations can comment on the consultation up to 25 January 2020.

Leading engineers

Engineering Ethics 2028 was drawn up following discussions with the Engineering Council, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Engineering Professors’ Council and Engineers without Borders UK. It sets a number of targets for the profession to:

  • Increase the number of engineers who are registered with a professional engineering institution and thereby bring them within the scope of professional conduct.
  • Promote a greater recognition by engineers that ethics is a fundamental part of their work.
  • Ensure engineers are aware of the impact technological innovations will have on society and their role to alert society about the risks of some of those technologies, and that projects maximise public benefits and minimise risks.
  • To work sustainably.  

Dr Jim Baxter from the Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied Centre at the University of Leeds authored the vision. He said:

“The people who are key to inventing, designing and building this technology are engineers. More than ever, they need to consider the interests of the public in the work that they do.

Engineering Ethics 2028 has to be set against the context of rapid technological change, and that change will have an impact on all our lives.

He added:

“Engineers have the power to do tremendous good... The ethics vision, if the profession achieves it, will ensure they think about public opinion and the public good.”

Have your say

Visit the Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied Centre website to take part in the consultation.

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