« ÖncekiDevam »
must be even more careful in choosing his engineer than in choosing his attorney. The eastern edge of this country has begun to learn this, but as one proceeds west he finds a less and less favorable view taken of the standing of the engineer. The influx of the large number of young men with technical education is improving the personnel of the profession materially, and this will finally have its effect, but there are some retarding factors whose removal would permit more rapid improvement. The ambitious young engineering graduate shortly discovers the unsatisfactory condition of the profession and the difficulty, sometimes the impossibility even, of securing adequate financial return for his labors, and in most cases either withdraws from the practice of his profession to enter some of the side lines in which his technical training is of value, or drops into some salaried position where much of his independence is lost, but a fair living is made secure. This is considered necessary because in the legitimate practice of his profession he must contend with the lack of understanding of ethical principles among his brother engineers, and especially among the incompetent selfstyled engineers; with the low prices for work set by these incompetents and adopted by too many others whose work is really of value; and with the ignorance of the public which gives the opportunity for much of this. A proper understanding of the relations of engineers to each other and to the public, and a legitimate combination to secure full credit for ability and education where it is due, and corresponding exposure of pretensions without foundation, will do more to advance the status of the engineering profession than years of the desultory discussion that has heretofore occurred. There is a serious lack of knowledge of the principles of ethics and the value of the profession technically and financially among young engineers, which can best be removed by some instruction in these principles during the college course. A few lectures upon the relative standing of the profession, the duties of engineers to themselves, their brother engineers, their clients and the public, the history of the profession in this and other countries, will take little time and and will be of vast benefit to the future of the profession and to the practical success of individual engineers. Codes of ethics have been proposed at various times, but without causing more than a ripple of interest in the subject, and usually calling to the front one or more of the men who consider their profession as a handicraft, without sufficient dignity to warrant the adoption of a code. These objectors usually belong to the class described, of young men ignorant of, because uninstructed in, the principles of ethics and the value of the profession, who take their low ideas from their personal experiences and an extremely one-sided view of the case, and the consequent despair of anything better. The instruction to undergraduates, proposed, will greatly help to keep individuals out of this slough of despond by giving them a wider outlook and a more comprehensive view of the field and its possibilities. No time need be taken from the regular work, and two or three lectures from competent practical men will cover the ground. The writer's experience indicates that, with a few exceptions among men who have been in practice to some extent, the college professor is not usually well enough informed on the subject to be fully capable of giving the desired instruction, as a certain amount of experience and contact with all classes of clients is necessary to acquire full knowledge of the difficulties that will beset the young engineer. The question of a formulated code of ethics will largely settle itself in the future if the matter of education of young engineers in the principles of the subject is taken care of.
The members of the profession should have sufficient esprit de corps to make a written code unnecessary, but it may well be considered necessary to take some measures to protect the profession against the inroads of incompetent aspirants for professional employment while the public and the profession at large are in process of education to the high standard set by our best engi
DISCUSSION. PROFESSOR M. E. WADSWORTH desired to ask for information, what is done in the different institutions in that direction? At the institution with which he is connected the subject of engineering contracts and the question of ethics and principles of engineering is taken up in connection with mining engineering and with mine management and mine accounts. Is not some provision of that kind made in almost all of the colleges ?
PROFESSOR L. S. RANDOLPH said that this was a subject in which he had been very much interested for some time. There was a very interesting discussion before the Engineers’ Association of Virginia some few months ago, on the subject of engineering ethics. The subject is one to which the speaker had given some attention, had suffered from to some extent and about which he had heard a great many complaints. The author states that there is serious lack of knowledge among the young men. The speaker's experience has been that the lack of knowledge exists also among the older men of the profession, and the subject is one which it is very important that we should advance. There is still hope of having a code of ethics adopted by the older men. The only practical thing to do is to see to it that the younger men have proper ideas when they graduate. As to the best method of handling this subject the speaker's practice has been to introduce it here and there through the course as opportunity offers. It is not always possible to arrange, in the case of engineering ethics, a distinct course in the school, but a great deal can be accomplished at times by an anecdote, perhaps on a hot day, when the class will not listen well to a serious subject, but can be roused with an anecdote. A good deal can be taught in that way, if the subject of engineering ethics is brought up incidentally in a way to excite the student's interest and either amuse him or make him angry at some species of injustice. The subject ought to receive attention; the speaker's experience has shown that. Within the last two weeks a man who signs himself as a civil engineer came to the speaker to ask him how to calculate the head necessary for a given flow through a pipe; he had a problem of that kind; he wanted to lay out a ditch for carrying the water some distance, and then take it the rest of the way through the pipe; he came to ask how to calculate the head. If he had squarely asked for information the speaker would have told him what little he knew on the subject. That man was evidently feeling around in an underhand fashion, trying to find out in some way how to do it. He was utterly incapable in all probability, and yet a great deal of bad work had been done by him and is doing injury to the profession of civil engineering.
PROFESSOR E. A. FUERTES thought the subject to be a very important one, for it is convertible into that of social position and comfort in life through suitable fees. A man who feels that his economic value in society is great is not going to work for a dollar and a half per day. The speaker believed with Bolivarthe South American' Washington—that “no one ever gets anything better than he deserves.” The reason why our profession suffers in the way of which we complain, is because it is not like the French body of engineers, which is composed of men who are, ipso facto, cultured gentlemen of great social power. The reason why we have not yet such power is because we do not deserve it; there cannot be any other reason; it is the only reason that could exist. If our young men were better educated, not alone in the “bread and butter subjects," which seem to be the main object of many of our engineering courses, they could be so rounded and empowered that they would become great social forces to influence other men in the way that men can only be influenced. This must be by personal force, and that personal force cannot be recruited excepting by that kind of education which