Implementing the ASCE Code of Ethics in Professional Practices

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ASCE Code of EthicsASCE Code of EthicsIn this episode, I talk with Steven M. Rienks, P.E., PMP, director of engineering at American Surveying & Engineering, about the intricate world of the ASCE Code of Ethics, exploring its historical roots, pivotal importance, and its significant influence on the realm of civil engineering.

***The video version of this episode can be viewed .***

Engineering Quotes:

ASCE Code of EthicsASCE Code of Ethics

ASCE Code of EthicsASCE Code of Ethics

Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Steven:

  • What led to your interest in the American Society of Civil Engineers Code of Ethics?
  • Can you give a summary of how the ASCE Code of Ethics has developed and changed over the years?
  • How do you view the importance of the preamble of the ASCE Code of Ethics in guiding your ethical practices throughout your career?
  • How has the preamble of the ASCE Code of Ethics influenced your career?
  • When you reflect on the ASCE Code of Ethics and its impact on your career, do you prioritize the well-being of the five key stakeholders affected by your work?
  • How do you manage the diverse interests of various stakeholders to ensure the best possible outcomes as a civil engineer?
  • Do you think any of these areas are sometimes overlooked in engineering when prioritizing public health, safety, and welfare while considering clients, employers, peers, and the environment?
  • What are typical ethical challenges or dilemmas that civil engineers encounter?
  • How important do you believe the ASCE complaint form is for maintaining professional integrity in addressing ethical concerns that may arise in the field?
  • If a genuine ethical issue arises after submitting a complaint, would you report it to the appropriate local board for further action?
  • When encountering ethical dilemmas, where do you suggest professionals seek assistance or guidance, particularly in complex situations?
  • When you encounter an ethical complaint, should you understand how the company handles it from a human resources perspective?
  • How does the ASCE Code of Ethics support engineers in their professional growth and development?
  • What advice would you give to new aspiring civil engineers starting their careers?

Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Implementing the ASCE Code of Ethics in Professional Practices:

  • Steven’s interest in the American Society of Civil Engineers Code of Ethics was sparked when he obtained and displayed version two of the code, received in 1980, in his offices for several years. Upon discovering a more recent version on the ASCE website presented in a simpler format, Steven reached out to ASCE to inquire about updating the code.
  • The ASCE Code of Ethics has evolved over the years, with the first version dating back to 1914, followed by a version from 1980, and the most recent one in 2020; however, he cannot provide specific details on the changes and development of the code since he was not involved in that committee.
  • Steven values the preamble of the ASCE Code of Ethics as it emphasizes essential principles such as creating safe infrastructure, treating everyone with respect and fairness, addressing societal needs, and improving quality of life, which have significantly guided his ethical practices throughout his career.
  • The preamble of the ASCE Code of Ethics has greatly influenced Steven’s career by emphasizing principles like creating safe infrastructure, respecting individuals, addressing societal needs, and enhancing quality of life, and guiding his ethical decisions and conduct.
  • When reflecting on the ASCE Code of Ethics and its impact on his career, Steven prioritizes the well-being of the five key stakeholders affected by engineering work: society, the natural and built environment, the engineering profession, clients and employers, and peers.
  • Managing diverse stakeholder interests as a civil engineer involves applying ethical principles to navigate challenges and achieve the best outcomes, especially when failures can lead to serious consequences like collapsed structures or legal issues.
  • In engineering, certain areas like janitorial services or facility maintenance can be overlooked when prioritizing public health, safety, and welfare, despite their importance in ensuring a clean and safe environment for clients, employers, peers, and the community.
  • Civil engineers often encounter ethical challenges related to maintaining competence in rapidly evolving fields, being transparent and truthful in public statements, avoiding conflicts of interest with employers or clients, and adhering to strict standards regarding accepting gifts or favors from suppliers. These challenges are crucial to ensuring public safety and welfare in engineering practices.
  • The ASCE complaint form is essential for upholding professional integrity in civil engineering. It provides a formal process to address ethical concerns by allowing members to report violations of the ASCE Code of Ethics. This tool promotes transparency, accountability, and ethical behavior within the profession, ensuring standards are upheld and maintaining the reputation of civil engineering.
  • If a genuine ethical issue arises after submitting a complaint, it’s important to report it to the appropriate local board for further action. This ensures that ethical concerns are properly addressed and investigated by the relevant authorities, maintaining accountability and integrity within the profession.
  • When encountering ethical dilemmas, professionals should seek guidance from ASCE’s “Guidelines to Professional Conduct” publication. They can also consult organizational leadership or involve the HR department, particularly in complex situations that may impact workplace policies. Seeking diverse perspectives and expertise helps navigate ethical challenges effectively.
  • When facing an ethical complaint, it’s crucial to understand how the company handles it from a human resources perspective. HR departments have specific procedures for addressing such concerns within the organization. Being familiar with these processes helps navigate the complaint effectively and ensures it is handled according to company policies and standards, while also considering potential workplace implications.
  • The ASCE Code of Ethics helps engineers grow professionally by setting clear standards for ethical behavior. Following this code fosters integrity, responsibility, and accountability, which are essential for career advancement and gaining trust in the profession. Overall, it guides ethical decision-making and contributes to engineers’ development in the field.
  • To new aspiring civil engineers starting their careers, prioritize understanding organizational culture. Look for companies that value work-life balance and support managing after-hours communications in our technology-driven world. Embrace lifelong learning to adapt and succeed in this dynamic field.

More Details in This Episode…

About Steven M. Rienks, P.E., PMP

American Surveying & EngineeringAmerican Surveying & EngineeringSteven M. Rienks, P.E., PMP, currently serves as the director of engineering at American Surveying & Engineering, a position he has held since December 2007. With a rich educational background, Steven boasts an MS in Project Management from Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University. Further solidifying his expertise in the field, he earned a BSE, BSCE, and MSE in General, Civil, and Construction Engineering & Management from the University of Michigan. His extensive education and professional certifications as a Professional Engineer (P.E.) and Project Management Professional (PMP) equip him with a comprehensive understanding of engineering principles and project management, making him a valuable leader in his field.

About the Host: K. James Taylor, Jr., P.E.

VerdantasVerdantasK. James Taylor, Jr., P.E., is a licensed professional engineer and an associate vice president at Verdantas, an emerging environmental, engineering, and technical consulting company with a green, sustainable, and people-first approach in the foreground. James has over 17 years of experience in civil engineering in the land development and municipal fields. Land development services include the design of subdivisions and site plans for compliance with local codes and ordinances, civil/site engineering, stormwater management, road design, and utility design. James has served as a project manager since 2018. In 2021, James was recognized with the Outstanding Project Manager Award at Duffield Associates (now Verdantas) for outstanding performance as a project manager and his consistent display of leadership traits valued by the company, including scheduling, management, proactive communication, collaboration, responsiveness, and client-focused service.

James was selected as the 2021 Young Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Delaware Section and served as the President of the Delaware Engineering Society and the New Professionals Director on the NSPE Board of Directors from 2021-2023.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:

A Whole New Engineer

Sources/References:

American Surveying & Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
ASCE Code of Ethics
Engineering News Record
Civil Engineering Magazine
ASCE’s Committee on Professional Conduct
Guidelines for Professional Conduct
National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
National Institute for Engineering Ethics (NIEE)
Connect with Steven M. Rienks, P.E., PMP, on LinkedIn

We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you can share on implementing the ASCE Code of Ethics in professional practices.

Please leave your comments, feedback, or questions in the section below.

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To your success,

K. James Taylor, Jr., P.E.
Host of The Civil Engineering Podcast

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