First-Hand:Challenges IEEE Faced Supporting Ethical Behavior and Professionalism

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== Challenges IEEE Faced Supporting Ethical Behavior and Professionalism

Headline text

                     Walter L. Elden, P.E.(Ret)
                      IEEE Life Senior Member
          IEEE Member Conduct and Ethics Committees, 1996-1998

This article provides my personal experiences and viewpoints, recalled from over the 50 years I have been a member of the IEEE, watching and experiencing some of the challenges IEEE faced in supporting ethical behavior and professionalism of its members. While I believe most of the other IEEE Global History Network, GHN, articles will deal with Technological matters, I have chosen Professional matters as my main topic area, as a result of the IEEE membership voting to change its Constitution in 1972 to add Professional to its already well established Technical Activities.

I believe the basic problem over the years, from the era of 1912,which led to IEEE having severe challenges in the ethical and professionalism areas arising strongly in the early 1970's, had their genesis in the early transformation which occurred in one of IEEE's predecessor societies, the American Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or the AIEE. This was documented well by Edwin T. Layton, Jr. in his book "The Revolt of the Engineers" (The Johns Hopkins university Press, 1986). The basic issue was that "businessmen" wanted full membership in the AIEE, so they could direct its interests and activities away from the "professional" interests and activities of the founding practicing engineers, and toward the business interests of utilities and other industries which they managed.