Toward Lifelong Excellence: Navigating the Engineering-Business Space
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Nearly all engineers will have to navigate the engineering-business nexus, especially at critical moments in their careers. This chapter adopts an engineers perspective and his or her resources qua engineer to develop an extended understanding of what it means to flourish in this space. As members of a profession, engineers are given some guidance on what is needed to succeed as an engineer. In both the United States and Europe, these expectations are most developed in student or program outcomes, ABET (a)(k) and EUR-ACE, respectively. While both organizations encourage technical engineering expertise and lifelong learning, engineers are largely left to their own devices after graduation as the scope of professional concern shrinks to a list of prohibitive and preventive injunctionsdo not practice outside ones competence, protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, etc.that are applicable to engineers of all stripes. Such a retreat is understandable, given the vastly different contingencies of engineering work. Yet this movement underemphasizes important aspects of an engineers personal and professional development at the same time that engineers must navigate a staggering number of degrees of freedom that arise as engineering work intersects with business and social constraints and opportunities. A coherent approach to lifelong technical and non-technical development can be formed by integrating W. D. Rosss formulation of duty ethics with elements of virtue ethics. Rosss prima facie duties provide a theoretical framework for organizing the competing demands placed on an individual in the engineering-business nexus that extend beyond preventive-prohibitive concerns. Virtue ethics captures the longitudinal dimension of character and intellectual development over a lifetime through its emphasis on realization of potential, the development of habits, and the concepts of internal goods and practice. This framework can be used by individual engineers to evaluate their educational and career options and to navigate commercial, entrepreneurial, and social spaces in ways that are congruent with their personal ethics and that further develop their professions.
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Christensen, S. H., Delahousse, B., Didier, C., Meganck, M., & Murphy, M.
Philosophy of Engineering and Technology