The
title and term of engineering has evolved immensely over the course of the last
century. The Latin word of ingenium which means cleverness, and ingeniare,
meaning to devise both come together to form the term that is known today as
engineering. The term engineering is the applied science of carrying out specific
knowledge to benefit and enhance society 1.

With
the amount of trust and skill, engineering is a job that has become to be held
in high regard and respect. Since the jobs birth, the career has developed,
becoming more skilled, and baring a greater risk. With the increase in
commitment, in the year of 1937, the regulation of practicing engineering was
undergone. The profession was barred from those who were unqualified and
required a licence 3.

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The
trade of engineering became a profession that greatly impacted society and
citizens; with the constructions of bridges, traffic systems, building
structures, and so forth, the safety of the public became a paramount concern. One
of the set of rules a practicing engineer must abide by is the code of ethics. In
Canada, with the increasing impact engineers had on the day to day life of
citizens it was the general public to voice their concern on establishing a set
of standards and rules for engineers to abide by. Specifically, in Ontario,
Professional Engineers Ontario was created and outlines a code of ethics that
is a guideline for a practicing engineer. This code details that engineers must
show; fairness and loyalty to their subjects, devotion to the needs of the
public, hold a high set of ideals involving honour and integrity, knowledge in
the undertaken area of engineering, and finally competence in their conduct
4.

            The adoption of engineering to be
considered a profession was related to the jobs that required skill and
responsibility. It also however, was to aid in providing requirements an
individual must achieve before they could carry out engineering related tasks.
These necessary skills and achievements include, a sufficient amount of
knowledge, experience and competency to carry out proper work. These standards
are to ensure the safety of the public. The safety of the public is a paramount
concern for any engineer similar to that of a doctor, as their work influences
the public greatly.

            Not only is public safety a grave
concern but the welfare of the public is too. With the safety pertaining to the
feeling or condition of safe being, welfare is instead the overall health,
happiness and the prosperity of the people. Engineering as a profession has a
similar affinity as safety, for the publics welfare. Consistently mentioned
throughout the guidelines of the Professional Engineers Ontario, there are
rules for engineers to promote the best overall all welfare of the public always.
  

            The publics safety and welfare are
two paramount concerns to not only specifically to a practicing engineer, but
here in Ontario to also of the body the regulates them, Professional Engineers
Ontario (PEO). PEO ensures that all the practicing professional engineers are
licenced, as well only licensing those who qualify. Individuals who deceitfully
pretend to be licenced when they are in fact not, will have action taken
against them by PEO’s enforcement division. Even companies that are performing
for the public engineering services will see penalty. These unlawful
misrepresentations are brought to light of PEO by concerned public and
complaints. The PEO body can conduct disputes and hearings with their
disciplinary division and conjure penalties.

To
ensure the utmost care of the public, PEO does not only weed out imposters that
can be misusing the engineer name, but also set a variety of strict guidelines
and rules to ensure properly practicing engineers always have the publics best
interests in mind. The PEO has the ability to revoke or suspend an engineers
licence for upwards of 2 years 5. They are able to apply limiting conditions
for the engineers continued practice, administer fines and more. Not only are
any of these infractions a major inconvenience, having a history with being
disciplined by the PEO may have future implications with the publics trust and
be a cause of concern to future employers.

An
engineer should take the safety of the public very seriously not just because
of the strict and steep repercussion penalties that they could be dealt with
otherwise, but innately every engineer should hold compassion and dignity to
provide their best work to ameliorate the public. An engineer is likewise a
citizen to the public and is impacted by the work done by others throughout the
community. An engineer has the ability to affect the lives of potential
thousands of individuals with their work. Having duties with major
repercussions, safety is recurring serious concern, and is defined as
protecting against danger, injury, and risk 6, 7. It is important to adhere
to guidelines and take every effort to ensure the well being of these people.

Another
important topic comparable to the safety of the public is their welfare. Welfare
is analogous to safety, however is relates to a person’s overall health and
happiness 8. An engineer like with safety should have an interest in the
publics welfare, not only carrying out work within the proper guidelines and to
the rules, but driving them to provide meaningful work that will change and
impact a community for the better.

Throughout
history, there have been many occurrences even in Canada, where engineers
seriously lacked care of the publics safety and welfare. One tragedy that
illustrates a lack of attention to the public is the De La Concorde overpass
collapse. This overpass runs over the Autoroute 19 close to Montreal, Quebec
9. Around midday on September 30th in 2006, a section of the overpass
came plummeting down leading to the injury of six individuals and the death of
five 10. There were a variety of causes that were determined to of caused
this collapse. The first was made during the design of the overpass, the
reinforcing steel was not adequately dispersed throughout the structure which
was not to the current building codes. Even with the subpar design during the
construction the reinforcement was not deployed as marked in the design leading
to an even further weaker structure. Additionally, the made use of a cheap
quality concrete which was not appropriate for the freezing and thawing
behaviour the overpass would encounter. At the end of the case, 4 individuals
were named and held responsible for the collapse. The allegations included improper
supervision, avoiding responsibilities, neglect, and lack of competency 11. With
these types of contributing causes that were identified by the investigating committee,
it is evident to see a lack of care and consideration to the publics welfare. Whatever
the motivations were, to pass off work or pass inspections perhaps out of
laziness or use an inferior concrete to save money, there was an evident reoccurring
disregard to the potential threat this overpass could and did possess. As an
engineer is it important to look beyond the daily work tasks to see how the
work being carried has an impact on the future. Skipping or cutting corners in
a career with work so heavily connected to thousands of individuals, there is,
as seen here the possibility for mistakes to have deathly results.

            Another is the Algo Centre Mall in
the northern Ontario city of Elliot Lake. On June 23, 2012 a portion of the
parking decks roof collapsed, taking out two shopping centre floors down with
it, two individuals lost their lives and more than twenty were injured 12. The
mall had just passed an inspection and was deemed safe 2 months prior to this
collapse. The mall received the approval even with structural beams having significant
rusting, there were tarps scattered throughout the mall to contain leaks, and
ceiling tiles constantly falling after becoming water logged. The single
engineer who conducted the inspection, Robert Wood, was not charged as there
was no malice found in his practicing, however its evident he held poor
judgement and a total disregard to the safety of the public. Although he was
not charged, he now must live with the fact his actions may have aided the
death of two people 13. An incident like this truly reflects the need to hold
the publics interest in the highest regard. As an engineer there are potential consequences
for every action during the job, it is easy to pass over decisions since they
are potentially minuscule to the big picture or with having it won’t happen to
me mentality. With project deadlines and pressure from cohorts and bosses to
get a job done, it is easy to turn a blind eye to the bigger picture of public
safety and welfare. It is negligence and carelessness to believe it will never
happen to you, and the best method to avoid these disheartening circumstances
is prevention of putting any deadline or task ahead of the publics well being.
An career in engineering is to ameliorate the community while having the public
of interest held in the highest regard.

In
closing, it is unfortunate that through disaster and loss of human life that
the impact engineer’s careers have in society is made aware. Engineers must
know that even simple tasks or jobs, can have an effect on thousands of people.
Therefore, it is important throughout a career as a practicing professional
engineer there is the obligation to have the publics interest kept constantly
in mind and have their safety and welfare kept as a constant essential thought.