Why we need engineers who study ethics as much as maths
The recent apartment building collapse in Miami, Florida, is a tragic reminder of the huge impacts engineering can have on our lives. Disasters such as this force engineers to reflect on their practice and perhaps fundamentally change their approach. Specifically, we should give much greater weight to ethics when training engineers.
Engineers work in a vast range of fields that pose ethical concerns. These include artificial intelligence, data privacy, building construction, public health, and activity on shared environments (including Indigenous communities). The decisions engineers make, if not fully thought through, can have unintended consequences – including building failures and climate change.
Engineers have ethical obligations (such as Engineers Australia’s code of ethics) that they must follow. However, as identified at UNSW, the complexity of emerging social concerns creates a need for engineers’ education to equip them with much deeper ethical skill sets.