Professional Ethics and Communication in Mechanical Engineering Essay

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As we’ve discussed in class, mechanical engineering is a very serious profession. As with other professions (e.g. medicine and law) mechanical engineering is governed by a set of professional standards and ethics. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has a Committee on Ethical Standards, and maintains an ethics website: As a practicing professional mechanical engineer, you are expected to be aware of the requirement for ethical conduct by mechanical engineers, and know and practice the Code of Ethics of Engineers as referenced in the ASME Constitution, Article C2.1.1. and as contained in our three Fundamental Principles and ten Fundamental Canons. One can find the current version of the ASME ethics policy at:

This assignment asks you to explore how the ethics of a mechanical engineer must coincide with how written communication plays an important role on the job.

Assignment. Here is the scenario on which you will be writing:

In your first professional position, you are retained by a company to examine certain lands for environmental contamination. You are asked to sign a binding secrecy agreement, such that no data, findings, conclusions or other information relating to the study can be released unless ordered by the court. Since such contracts are normal professional agreements, you sign. You find disturbingly high quantities of heavy metals, including lead and arsenic, and note the close proximity of the new housing developments. You place these facts in your report as required. In passing the site week after week, you note that nothing happens; clean-up is not occurring, the site is not cordoned off and the housing development continues to edge closer. Because of your excellent performance with the environmental job, you are still with the company, but working on a different project.

The questions you need to answer:

Do you take steps within the company to inquire about the contaminated site?
If yes, then how do you go about your inquiry?
If no, then please explain why.
Should you maintain your secrecy agreement?
If yes, then please explain why.
If no, then how do you go about releasing the information?
What guidance do the appropriate Principles and Canons give you in relation to the ethical problem?
How does written communication play a key role in this scenario?

Goals of the assignment. This assignment will help you gain a better understanding of:

1) the importance of clear and concise written communication in relation to mechanical engineering, and

2) the expectations of the mechanical engineering discipline in relation to ethics and ethical dilemmas.

Audience. This assignment should be written such that a group of peers, who may have no concept of the nature of ethics or communication in mechanical engineering, will come away from reading your essay with a clear understanding of the professional obligations and expectations related to mechanical engineering ethics, and the amount of work one must do to uphold said ethics.

Essay Strategies.

Focus the introduction by describing why this scenario would pose a problem to a representative mechanical engineer. At the end of this section, your reader should have a very clear understanding of the nature of the dilemma and its importance to the essay.

Organize the body of the essay to focus on relationships between the dilemma and the ASME Fundamental Principles and the Fundamental Canons.

Develop the body of the essay by making clear connections between the Principles and Canons, and the nature of the ethical problem. At the end of this section, your reader should have a clear understanding of the relationship between the ASME Code of Ethics, and the ethical problem under discussion.

Make sure the possible outcomes are strong and clear components of the essay. Make sure your reader is aware that this is the critical part of your essay – the possible outcomes of ethical decisions! Ensure that your comparison and contrast section results in your reader having a very clear understanding of the fact that ethical decisions may not be easy decisions. Also, make certain that the role of written communication is described in such a way that the audience knows it is a key component during your scenario. After completing your essay, your reader should be in no doubt whatsoever about the nature of the ethical dilemma, the application of the ASME Code of Ethics in such a situation, the written communication work involved during the entire process and the possible outcomes associated from taking an ethical stand.

Proofread your essay. Print it out and read it aloud, and then have a classmate proofread it for you.

If you are having trouble with your essay, go to the CSU Writing Lab for help, and discuss your essay with one of the counselors.

Minimum Requirements and Format: This essay will need to be three pages minimum. You need to have a minimum of four separate sources cited in you paper and correctly entered into your Works Cited page. APA formatting will be used, since APA style is what you will be using for the rest of your mechanical engineering academic careers. Please go to for The OWL at Purdue’s APA Formatting and Style Guide.

Please note: If you do not use citation in your paper, it is considered plagiarism, regardless if you have a Works Cited page or not. You must cite your sources in your paper, because simply having a Works Cited page does not count as citing your source. A Works Cited page is merely a reference sheet that alphabetically catalogs all the sources your have cited in your paper, and it is worthless if you do not use citation in your essay.

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