Thetitle and term of engineering has evolved immensely over the course of the lastcentury. The Latin word of ingenium which means cleverness, and ingeniare,meaning to devise both come together to form the term that is known today asengineering.
The term engineering is the applied science of carrying out specificknowledge to benefit and enhance society 1. Withthe amount of trust and skill, engineering is a job that has become to be heldin high regard and respect. Since the jobs birth, the career has developed,becoming more skilled, and baring a greater risk.
With the increase incommitment, in the year of 1937, the regulation of practicing engineering wasundergone. The profession was barred from those who were unqualified andrequired a licence 3. Thetrade of engineering became a profession that greatly impacted society andcitizens; with the constructions of bridges, traffic systems, buildingstructures, and so forth, the safety of the public became a paramount concern. Oneof the set of rules a practicing engineer must abide by is the code of ethics. InCanada, with the increasing impact engineers had on the day to day life ofcitizens it was the general public to voice their concern on establishing a setof standards and rules for engineers to abide by.
Specifically, in Ontario,Professional Engineers Ontario was created and outlines a code of ethics thatis a guideline for a practicing engineer. This code details that engineers mustshow; fairness and loyalty to their subjects, devotion to the needs of thepublic, hold a high set of ideals involving honour and integrity, knowledge inthe undertaken area of engineering, and finally competence in their conduct4. The adoption of engineering to beconsidered a profession was related to the jobs that required skill andresponsibility. It also however, was to aid in providing requirements anindividual must achieve before they could carry out engineering related tasks.These necessary skills and achievements include, a sufficient amount ofknowledge, experience and competency to carry out proper work. These standardsare to ensure the safety of the public.
The safety of the public is a paramountconcern for any engineer similar to that of a doctor, as their work influencesthe public greatly. Not only is public safety a graveconcern but the welfare of the public is too. With the safety pertaining to thefeeling or condition of safe being, welfare is instead the overall health,happiness and the prosperity of the people. Engineering as a profession has asimilar affinity as safety, for the publics welfare.
Consistently mentionedthroughout the guidelines of the Professional Engineers Ontario, there arerules for engineers to promote the best overall all welfare of the public always. The publics safety and welfare aretwo paramount concerns to not only specifically to a practicing engineer, buthere in Ontario to also of the body the regulates them, Professional EngineersOntario (PEO). PEO ensures that all the practicing professional engineers arelicenced, as well only licensing those who qualify. Individuals who deceitfullypretend to be licenced when they are in fact not, will have action takenagainst them by PEO’s enforcement division.
Even companies that are performingfor the public engineering services will see penalty. These unlawfulmisrepresentations are brought to light of PEO by concerned public andcomplaints. The PEO body can conduct disputes and hearings with theirdisciplinary division and conjure penalties.
Toensure the utmost care of the public, PEO does not only weed out imposters thatcan be misusing the engineer name, but also set a variety of strict guidelinesand rules to ensure properly practicing engineers always have the publics bestinterests in mind. The PEO has the ability to revoke or suspend an engineerslicence for upwards of 2 years 5. They are able to apply limiting conditionsfor the engineers continued practice, administer fines and more. Not only areany of these infractions a major inconvenience, having a history with beingdisciplined by the PEO may have future implications with the publics trust andbe a cause of concern to future employers. Anengineer should take the safety of the public very seriously not just becauseof the strict and steep repercussion penalties that they could be dealt withotherwise, but innately every engineer should hold compassion and dignity toprovide their best work to ameliorate the public. An engineer is likewise acitizen to the public and is impacted by the work done by others throughout thecommunity.
An engineer has the ability to affect the lives of potentialthousands of individuals with their work. Having duties with majorrepercussions, safety is recurring serious concern, and is defined asprotecting against danger, injury, and risk 6, 7. It is important to adhereto guidelines and take every effort to ensure the well being of these people. Anotherimportant topic comparable to the safety of the public is their welfare. Welfareis analogous to safety, however is relates to a person’s overall health andhappiness 8. An engineer like with safety should have an interest in thepublics welfare, not only carrying out work within the proper guidelines and tothe rules, but driving them to provide meaningful work that will change andimpact a community for the better.
Throughouthistory, there have been many occurrences even in Canada, where engineersseriously lacked care of the publics safety and welfare. One tragedy thatillustrates a lack of attention to the public is the De La Concorde overpasscollapse. This overpass runs over the Autoroute 19 close to Montreal, Quebec9. Around midday on September 30th in 2006, a section of the overpasscame plummeting down leading to the injury of six individuals and the death offive 10. There were a variety of causes that were determined to of causedthis collapse.
The first was made during the design of the overpass, thereinforcing steel was not adequately dispersed throughout the structure whichwas not to the current building codes. Even with the subpar design during theconstruction the reinforcement was not deployed as marked in the design leadingto an even further weaker structure. Additionally, the made use of a cheapquality concrete which was not appropriate for the freezing and thawingbehaviour the overpass would encounter. At the end of the case, 4 individualswere named and held responsible for the collapse. The allegations included impropersupervision, avoiding responsibilities, neglect, and lack of competency 11. Withthese types of contributing causes that were identified by the investigating committee,it is evident to see a lack of care and consideration to the publics welfare. Whateverthe motivations were, to pass off work or pass inspections perhaps out oflaziness or use an inferior concrete to save money, there was an evident reoccurringdisregard to the potential threat this overpass could and did possess. As anengineer is it important to look beyond the daily work tasks to see how thework being carried has an impact on the future.
Skipping or cutting corners ina career with work so heavily connected to thousands of individuals, there is,as seen here the possibility for mistakes to have deathly results. Another is the Algo Centre Mall inthe northern Ontario city of Elliot Lake. On June 23, 2012 a portion of theparking decks roof collapsed, taking out two shopping centre floors down withit, two individuals lost their lives and more than twenty were injured 12. Themall had just passed an inspection and was deemed safe 2 months prior to thiscollapse. The mall received the approval even with structural beams having significantrusting, there were tarps scattered throughout the mall to contain leaks, andceiling tiles constantly falling after becoming water logged. The singleengineer who conducted the inspection, Robert Wood, was not charged as therewas no malice found in his practicing, however its evident he held poorjudgement and a total disregard to the safety of the public. Although he wasnot charged, he now must live with the fact his actions may have aided thedeath of two people 13.
An incident like this truly reflects the need to holdthe publics interest in the highest regard. As an engineer there are potential consequencesfor every action during the job, it is easy to pass over decisions since theyare potentially minuscule to the big picture or with having it won’t happen tome mentality. With project deadlines and pressure from cohorts and bosses toget a job done, it is easy to turn a blind eye to the bigger picture of publicsafety and welfare. It is negligence and carelessness to believe it will neverhappen to you, and the best method to avoid these disheartening circumstancesis prevention of putting any deadline or task ahead of the publics well being.An career in engineering is to ameliorate the community while having the publicof interest held in the highest regard.Inclosing, it is unfortunate that through disaster and loss of human life thatthe impact engineer’s careers have in society is made aware.
Engineers mustknow that even simple tasks or jobs, can have an effect on thousands of people.Therefore, it is important throughout a career as a practicing professionalengineer there is the obligation to have the publics interest kept constantlyin mind and have their safety and welfare kept as a constant essential thought.