The IEEE, ASME and ASCE Codes of Ethics: Similarities and Differences

Developing and implementing a code of ethics in any profession is instrumental in ensuring its integrity, honor and dignity. All engineering codes of ethics have one crucial similarity in that they dictate its members to uphold and maximize concern for the welfare of the general public. They are however different in their coordination and approach to research and execution of projects.

There are a number of similarities between the IEEE, ASME and ASCE codes of ethics. First, all the codes clearly dictate for its professionals to uphold maximum respect for the safety, health and welfare of the public. Another similarity is that they all call for engineers only to take tasks in the areas of competence. Engineers are thus prohibited from affixing signatures or seals on what they lack professional qualifications, either by education or by experience.

To ensure the integrity of the engineering profession, all the codes of ethics prohibit engineers from issuing public statements which are nonobjective and falsified. The three codes of ethics dictate for engineers to act for all employers or clients in a professional manner by acting as faithful agents thus avoiding potential conflict of interest. This serves to ensure that engineers build their reputation on merit rather than through unfair competition.

However, there are some differences evident in these three codes of conduct. First, unlike ASME and ASCE, IEEE dictates that engineers will be fully responsible for their decisions in relation to safety, health and welfare of the general public. This makes IEEE engineers more bound to decision responsibility than their ASME ASCE counterparts.

IEEE and zero tolerance to discrimination is another difference. Unlike ASME and ASCE code of ethics provisions, IEEE prohibits its members from discriminating any body based on race, gender, disability, age or religious and nationality. ASME and ASCE only require its members to uphold the rule of the constitutional laws.

Another difference is that IEEE allows for dictates for acceptance and/or offering of honest critics. IEEE technology can be subjected to criticism by engineers provided such services to correct errors and/or credit properly the contributions of other members. Due to the nature of IEEE, unlike the others, it requires engineers to improve the understanding, application and potential consequences to the public.

Both ASME and ASCE codes of ethics are quite clear on their emphasis for its engineers to uphold paramount care for the environment and its sustainable development. This is however not clearly stated in the IEEE code of ethics despite the fact that poor disposal of electrical and electronic components lead to environmental pollution.

IEEE has given much weight for ensuring that its members are honest and realistic when giving claims or estimates on existing data. IEEE as an engineering practice deal with information that is hard to quantify particularly by the public. It is due to this reason that their code of ethics requires members to be honest and realistic on claims involving available data. ASME and ASCE codes of ethics nevertheless give less weight on such though they still dictate for upholding honesty in their duties.

In conclusion, all the three codes of ethics identified dictate paramount respect and care for the safety and welfare of the general public. However, they are marked with various differences particularly on the emphasis they have on major issues of concern for a fair and sustainable development in the society. It is due to this that the author recommends for harmonization of the provisions of these codes of ethics particularly on issues of environment and discrimination.