Ethics in engineering is a very important, but often overlooked field. The reason is that we are in the business of making money by building things that make other people money. The issue arrises because the main people who use the things are not the ones making the money. This means that the people we build for, may not always hold the actual end users in mind when they tell us what to build.
I am using convoluted language above to make the point that the end users for a project are not always the ones who commission, and pay for the project. Because of this, the owner may not be aware of the impact to the safety and wellbeing on the end users their decisions are having. It is thus the engineer’s job to hold the public’s interest in mind – primarily with regard to safety in the structure.
In a similar way to the Hippocratic oath that doctors take, I believe all engineers should make a similar vow. It is a tragedy when something that you take for granted as being safe, such as a bridge or home, causes injury or death because cuts were made. It is thus critical for engineers both on design and construction to insure that the users of the structures are safe from harm.