Timothy S. Ormiston PE
Timothy S. Ormiston PE

The Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers, PSPE stands for:

  • Protecting the License
  • Standards for Professional Conduct
  • Philanthropy
  • Education

Engineers rely on standards, specifications, codes and written plans as tools to effectively and efficiently accomplish the tasks required in any project or body of work. It comes as no surprise then that engineers use standards for professional conduct as a matter of doing their work and living their life on a daily basis.
Standards for Professional Conduct
There are many sources that convey specifics for professional conduct for a group of people. For engineers, those sources include the NSPE Code of Ethics, Society of Petroleum Engineers Code of Professional Conduct, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Code of Ethics, American Society of Civil Engineers Code of Ethics, and Institution of Chemical Engineers Professional Code of Conduct, to name a few.  In fact, the Registration Act in Pennsylvania incorporates a code of ethics. {Section (4)(g)(1)} Each source has its own format and focus.
My choice for discussion is the list of Professional Obligations contained in Section III of the NSPE Code of Ethics. Our employers have expectations of proper conduct with regard to interactions with clients and suppliers, security, confidentiality, conflict of interest and diversity. I am required to attend regular training on those subjects followed by testing and submittal of results to go on my record. As practicing engineers we constantly have the reminders of professional conduct when working with our peers and clients.
Standards of Conduct Beyond the Office
I am a professional engineer all the time; at home, at the restaurant, at the stadium, anywhere I am, public or private. I don’t consciously plan to act or think that way, it is just who I am. There is no switch inside my brain that gets set to “high standard of conduct” when I arrive at my work place and off when I leave. But knowing that means I conduct myself in a professional manner when interacting with others because at some point those around me will figure out I am an engineer and displaying honesty and integrity will only serve to make a good impression for all engineers.
Nearly everyone at some time volunteers for events at places such as a church, school or other local public organization. Those are key interactive points where just being you, as an engineer, can promote a positive image.
The Professional Obligations of the NSPE Code of Ethics (listed below for reference) apply to all facets of my life. I would guess these obligations apply to the lives of my 35,000 NSPE colleagues as well. Interacting with this extensive professional network – the members of which understand what it means to be held to a higher standard of conduct – is a priceless resource of support, guidance, and shared experience.
III.   Professional Obligations

  1. Engineers shall be guided in all their relations by the highest standards of honesty and integrity.
  2. Engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest.
  3. Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives the public.
  4. Engineers shall not disclose, without consent, confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client employer, or public body on which they serve.
  5. Engineers shall not be influenced in their professional duties by conflicting interests.
  6. Engineers shall not attempt to obtain employment or advancement or professional engagements by untruthfully criticizing other engineers, or by other improper or questionable methods.
  7. Engineers shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice, or employment of other engineers. Engineers who believe others are guilty of unethical or illegal practice shall present such information to the proper authority for action.
  8. Engineers shall accept personal responsibility for their professional activities, provided, however, that engineers may seek indemnification for services arising out of their practice for other than gross negligence, where the engineer’s interests cannot otherwise be protected.
  9. Engineers shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due, and will recognize the propriety interests of others.

National Society of Professional Engineers (2-17-2016). “NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers” Retrieved from http://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics