Most professional engineering societies publish codes of ethics that their members are expected to follow. These codes tend to be short and confined to statements of general principles, but in many situations a practicing engineer needs much more specific guidance than can be obtained from a statement of general principles. The Executive Branch of the Federal Government, which employs about two million civilians, has recognized the need for specific guidance on the ethical conduct of employees by issuing “Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch“—thirty-nine thousand words of regulations comprising Part 2635 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The Standards apply to employees of the executive branch of the federal government (many of whom are engineers). But many of the Standards would also be of interest to private-sector engineers, who should be just as concerned as government engineers about questions of conflicting financial interests, misuse of employer’s resources, appropriateness of gift-giving between supervisors and subordinates, and the awkward situation of seeking a job with one employer while currently working for another.
Even though the Standards are written and organized to meet the requirements for citations by lawyers and judges, they are accessible to the layman, thanks to almost two hundred examples that show how the regulations apply in actual situations. In this 3 hour course a subset of the examples has been selected to make up the contents of the present course.