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Plagiarism and the Role of Ethics in Engineering


Plagiarism and the Role of Ethics in Engineering Scott Coffel Director, Hanson Center for Technical Communication College of Engineering The University of Iowa – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Plagiarism and the Role of Ethics in Engineering

Plagiarism and the Role of Ethics in Engineering
  • Scott Coffel
  • Director, Hanson Center for Technical
  • College of Engineering
  • The University of Iowa

Why Do Engineers Need Ethics?
  • Engineers are responsible for designing,
    constructing, and maintaining the inventions of
  • There are few (if any) mere technical decisions.
  • Knowing how to calculate stress or design a
    circuit is in part knowing what the profession
    allows, forbids, or requires .¹ ¹"Online Ethics
    Center Teaching Ethics Across the Engineering
    Curriculum" Online Ethics Center for Engineering
    6/19/2006 12926 PM National Academy of
    Engineering Accessed Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Two Comments on Ethics
  • The world has achieved brilliance without
    wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world
    of nuclear giants and ethical infants. Omar
    Bradley, US General in WW2
  • Ethics are a kind of highway code for traffic
    among mankind. Sigmund Freud

Bonus Slide More Fascinating Ethical
  • Rules are made to be broken.
  • Nice guys finish last.
  • Go along to get along.
  • If the boss does it, that means its not illegal.

We Think Were Ahead of the CurveBut Were Not
  • Everything that can be invented has been
  • Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Patent
    Office, 1899
  • The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert
    in explosives.
  • Admiral William Leahy, Manhattan Project, 1943
  • 640KB ought to be enough for anybody.
  • Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft, 1981

To Be Misquoted Can Ruin your Reputation
  • Poor Duell this is what he actually said in
  • In my opinion, all previous advances in the
    various lines of invention will appear totally
    insignificant when compared with those which the
    present century will witness. I almost wish that
    I might live my life over again to see the
    wonders which are at the threshold.

Imagine if an Engineer Were the President of the
United States
  • Global Engineer (and President) Herbert Hoover,
    1928 1932, donated all his paychecks to
  • Unlike doctors, engineers cannot bury their
    mistakes in the grave.
  • Herbert Hoover (1954, from an article in
    Engineers Week)

What Professional Engineers Tell Us
  • They find team writing and writing for multiple
    audiences difficult.
  • At times, the teams personal dynamics are in
    conflict with the teams responsibility to tell
    the truth.
  • Some of the worst ethical problems result from
    tensions between competing responsibilities.

NSPE Code of Ethics Engineers, in the fulfillment
of their professional duties, shall
  • Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of
    the public.
  • Perform services only in areas of their
  • Issue public statements only in an objective and
    truthful manner.
  • Act for each employer or client as faithful
    agents or trustees.
  • Avoid deceptive acts.
  • Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly,
    ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the
    honor, reputation, and usefulness of the

Plagiarism A Fancy Word for Unethical and/or
Foolish Behavior
Let's Be Blunt About Plagiarism
  • The Latin term for kidnapper was plagiarius. As
    aspiring engineers, you need to know that
    stealing the ideas of others has consequences
    beyond your own prospects and reputation
  • It also damages your institution and the honest
    members of your profession by loosening the bonds
    of trust that tie us all together.

Credibility and Depth of Research Striking
the Right Balance
  • Cite enough sources so that your audience trusts
    your conclusions and recommendations.
  • Dont overload your reports with cited material
    at the expense of your own insights.

Ignorance of the Rules Is No Excuse When in
Doubt, Ask the Experts
  • The Hanson Center Writing Resources page offers
    valuable and easy-to-read guides for writing and
    speaking ethically.
  • The Engineering Library offers a wide range of
    citation and bibliography software to help you
    cite sources with speed and accuracy.

Ethics Requires Precision in Thought and Language
  • Competent writing establishes your credibility
    as an engineer.
  • Engineers achieve success as writers through a
    process of drafting, feedback, and revision.
  • There are no shortcuts to good writing.

  • Ethical engineers navigate conflicts with an
    inner compass.
  • They also use the needs of the community as a
  • They balance responsibility to themselves, their
    profession, and the world.

Thank You