Sample Ethics Essay Paper on Engineering Ethics

Engineering ethics is an area of applied ethics and structure of right and moral principles that relate to the field of engineering. The field scrutinizes and sets the accountability by engineers to the area of operations, the society, clients as well as the professionals. The field is also applicable in the field of science philosophy and ethics technology. Engineering is an important professional who requires its members to exhibit the highest level of standards of integrity and honesty.

Engineering has a vital and direct influence on the lives of people. Therefore, the services offered by engineers require impartiality, honesty, welfare, equity, fairness, safety, and dedication towards protection public health. In additions, engineers are expected to carry out their duties under an extraordinary professional behaviour that needs careful observation of the highest standards ethical conduct. About that, there are fundamental canons, a rule of practice, and professional obligations that engineers are supposed to adhere to. Below, the paper will discuss Axtell Inc. in relations to engineering ethics.

Axtell Inc. Ethical Case

The underlying ethical issues and the primary ethical dilemma

Axtell Inc. is a company that manufactures ad designs large containers which are meant for storing high vigorous chemicals. The containers require robust, consistent safety seals to prevent leakages and spill, a mechanical value which as a regulator for inflow and outflow and precision temperature control components.

For some years, Axtell Inc. manufactured containers whose customers would stall by themselves. However, recent mechanical design revolutions are complicated during an installation process. It requires the presence of engineers from Axtell Inc. as complications associated with the installation can be very dangerous and lucrative if mistakes are made. For five years, during the leadership of Howard, there have two cases reported involving Axtell Inc.’s containers. The two cases resulted from carelessness on the part of spillage of chemicals.

In additions, Axtell has had a good record. However, as supervisors claim, the task of supervising is quite tedious. They add that the engineers require being very cautious at each stage of installation. The supervisors may also fail to meet the installation time limit as at times workloads are massive.  As a result, customers at times pressurize the company, and they are allowed to install on their own without the enterprise supervision. Moreover, this increases the company legal obligations and liabilities.

Typically, the company sends only one engineer to an installation site to oversee the installation. However, the installation requires some complicated processes which Howard, the chief engineer, has to double-check particularly for the new engineers. After installation, the company assigns an inspection date and number of the engineer who oversees it at the time of installation.

This case involves Tom Banks who is a veteran engineer in his period. He has worked with Veteran engineers Yost Charles during the full trial period. Yost knew that Tom had enough skills and had done sufficient supervision. After the third week, both decided that Tom would be tasked with a monitoring duty. Ethically, this knew in their minds that there are rules and Tom had not completed his training period.

In the beginning, Tom was able to notice that Charles was not attentive. When they talked about it, Charles argued that he was not feeling well and thus needed some rest. They had proposed to ask Howard to assign the task to somebody else. Later, they agreed that they have to complete the task ahead of them to beat the deadline.


Following this case, Tom tries to cover up for Charles. Tom did perform very well under his supervision. Axtell considered him to supervise Yost Charles’s work. Tom noticed that Charles health was in danger. A few weeks later, Charles died from a massive heart attack. Ten days later, Cameron Chemical reported complaints to Axtell concerning serious leakages from Axtell’s containers. Moreover, several workers have been hospitalized since the contact with the chemicals caused severe damage. Cameroon had planned to go to court to sue Axtell for manufacturing faulty equipment. As a result, Axtell’s lawyers planned to oppose it by arguing that the problem must have been caused by Cameron’s storage materials and improper handling. They added that Axtell has been doing excellent work in installation.

Howard went to Cameron to inspect what could have caused the leakages and also to check on the supervisors assigned the containers mentioned above. On each of the containers, he found inspection numbers. The first number on each of the container is Tom’s and the second is Charles, whom Howard regarded as the best supervisors. Howard approached Tom and discovered that the installation work was finished on the last day of his trial period. Tom remembered of Charles conditions and the request to Howard to replace him. Later, Tom chose not to tell Howard how the situation was. He was asked to testify in court, citing that the standard procedures were in place during installation.

From the scenario above, Tom has desecrated the rules set by the chief engineer, Howard. Tom failed to tell Howard the truth when they had the first talk. He agreed to do it when he was asked to go to court to testify. Concerning this, ethical conflicts experienced by workers come from poor management. In my opinion, before discussing the dilemma faced by Tom, it would be wise if the management policies of Axtell were looked at because they might have led to the dilemma. The company’s installation systems go beyond the legal requirement especially in the field of chemical manufacturing. It also seems that policies laid down by the firm exceed the average standard of maintenance by its competitors. However, Axtell has an extraordinary care for safety is admirable.

Chemical producers companies fail to produce standard quality and onsite services as Axtell does. There is also a challenge of the installation of equipment which has become a significant threat to safety in the place of work. In additions, the products are technically sophisticated, and therefore, the proper installation has become an issue. The containers’ materials have also got toxic chemicals which pose a potential damage to the public.

Howard claimed that the company had a good reputation regarding installation and safety. In his internal policies, he asserted on sending one an engineer to supervise installation in each project even if the customers would insist on doing it without supervision. Consequently, this meant more workload and pressure for the engineers. Equally, Howard refused to cooperate on the quality of work under these situations, and thus a burden for his engineers. 


From this case, it is clear that Howard obligation to safety is very accountable for his internal policies. All new engineers are assigned a veteran engineer to supervise their work for one month. For Axtell, the policy is not a permissible requirement, nor is it an extended standing policy. The company applies this policy to enhance its safety and quality measures during the times of installation of containers. Howard cannot be blamed on for his commitment to quality and security. However, it seems that his internal rules are making unrealistic and idealistic expectations for his junior engineers. Whereas engineering supervisors and managers are supposed to have ethical responsibilities to their customers as well as the general public. Furthermore, they are expected to have responsibilities towards their junior employees. Axtell’s safety record is built on the pressure on installation managers.

Codes and Cannons

The fundamental source of moral conflict, in this case, is that Axtell installation department is understaffed. Yost Charles is a veteran engineer who works for all days until he feels sick. He is aware of Howard’s policies which require him to oversee Tom’s work for more days. However, Charles is gravely ill to do the job efficiently. He opts not to bother Howard because he had no option and clients cannot wait. The client to Axtell is growing impatient to see the work completed. As well, Charles has spent all his sick leave at work, and he does not intend to continuing to work. Instead of talking to Howard, Charles requests Tom to continue to work on his behalf, thereby sacrilegious Howard’s policies. Charles certifies that he has completed the work of which he did not supervise

Ethics and Legality

Tom should have asserted that they see Howard before arriving at any decision. Howard, on the other hand, does not know of the impression of his thorough safety policies on junior engineers. The condition gives away a debate to discuss the heavy workload. Charles’ sickness is caused by the challenging pressure to complete the installation work. Additional staffs have happened after an open discussion with Howard. Charles’ subsequent heart attack may not have happened if there was a reduced pressure.

In the review of this case, considering the future problems, it is very formal that the necessary way for Tom would have been to let Howard know of the problem from the beginning. In my opinion, it would only be appropriate that Howard should be left to determine the unethical dilemmas brought up by his policies.

Possible Actions

Following the death of Charles Yost, Cameron Chemical Company has reported some serious leaks that have been found in the containers connected on the very day Tom was completing the trial period. As a result, these have caused excessive damage and injuries to the members of the public. The client impends to go to the court. In additions, when the case is taken to trial, Axtell’s attorneys plan to defend the company with its record. Tom finds himself in a dilemma for violating the business’s policies. If Tom had violated the policies, it would have been easy for Howard and the company’s attorneys to defend the Axtell actions.

Evaluating Actions

Axtell standard installation procedures may not have resulted into legal liabilities in itself. However, the court recognizes that the engineers are human beings and consequently disposed to errors in a ruling. The court also acknowledges that perfection is not needed, but engineers should exercise slightly conformance to the safety.  By the fact that Axtell has not followed its rules and those rules are more severe that the standard of care applied by its competitors should not be taken to be a serious legal matter.

In conclusion, the case has taught us that, from Tom’s viewpoint that honesty comes easier when the first chance for honesty presents itself. Upholding lies or defending lies in ethical judgment is always hard. Axtell scenario, we see a simple evasion of honesty which may have lured them to commit untruthfulness in the courtroom. Most importantly, we can also learn a practical lesson from Howard management roles. He embraces ethical responsibility by maintaining safety and quality were working situations for employees.