Ethics is at the heart of the engineering practice. In ASCE’s new video series, Engineering Ethics, engineers representing a wide range of backgrounds and technical disciplines talk about the critical role that ethical principles play in guiding the practice of engineering. Engineering Ethics is brought to you by funding from the United Engineering Foundation.

Competence is defined as the possession of a required skill, knowledge, or qualification. It is also an ethical obligation for civil engineers because their competence has a direct impact on the public.

People expect the structures and systems that engineers build to be safe and resilient. You don’t think about how a bridge holds your weight when you cross it, and you assume the water will run when you turn the tap on to wash your hands.

Civil engineers are responsible for upholding those expectations. They must ensure they have the knowledge and skills they need to do their job effectively and guarantee what they create is safe.

But innovation drives civil engineering forward, constantly evolving the profession. Therefore, the need for engineers to raise their level of competency grows.

In the second part of this series, interviewees discuss how ethics and expertise intersect; civil engineers’ duty to work “only in their areas of competence”; and the importance of lifelong learning during an era of scientific and technological advancement.