The increasing concern for the value dimension of engineering is, at least in part, a result of the attention that the media has given to cases such as the Challenger disaster, the Kansas City Hyatt-Regency Hotel walkways collapse, and the Exxon oil spill. As a response to this concern, a new discipline, engineering ethics, is emerging. This discipline will doubtless take its place alongside such well-established fields as medical ethics, business ethics, and legal ethics. The problem presented by this development is that most engineering professors are not prepared to introduce literature in engineering ethics into their classrooms. They are most comfortable with quantitative concepts and often do not believe they are qualified to lead class discussions on ethics. Many engineering faculty members do not think that they have the time in an already overcrowded syllabus to introduce discussions on professional ethics, or the time in their own schedules to prepare the necessary material. Hopefully, the resources presented herein will be of assistance.
Given the prevalence of corporate misconduct in the recent past, whistleblowing incidents have been on the rise. A 2002 article in Business Week called 2002 the "Year of the Whistleblower" and quoted Stephen Meagher, a former federal prosecutor who represents whistleblowers, as saying that "the business of whistleblowing is booming." This trend is likely to be bolstered by the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which for the first time, accords legal protections to whistleblowers in publicly traded companies. This means organizations will have to institute rigorous policies to allow employees to bring unethical and illegal practices to the forefront. Companies will have to train managers and executives on how to encourage openness, not unlike the sexual harassment training of a decade ago. Putting processes in place will not be quick, but it is certainly necessary given the increased public scrutiny of corporate behavior.