the details by huangyuarong


									                                                                                                        Robinson 4:00

                                              Tyler Wolf (
                                                                     removal of the cancer. Surgery is the most effective cancer
          THE IMPORTANCE OF MEDICINE                                 treatment to date, but it is a difficult process. Surgically
                                                                     removing the cancer proves to be a problematic task because
The world is full of problems and many of them require the           locating the cancer accurately is not easy. The improved
attention of engineers. The National Academy of Engineers            imaging systems would provide surgeons with a more
(NAE) has selected fourteen of these issues that require the         accurate location of the cancer. Although this appears
most attention: the “Grand Challenges for Engineering” [1].          advantageous on the surface, it is significantly more
These are the tasks that “must be mastered to ensure the             expensive than current techniques, and the ethical issues that
sustainability of civilization and the health of its citizens,       could result have yet to be examined.
while reducing individual and societal vulnerabilities and
enhancing the joy of living in the modern world” [1]. While            THE ETHICAL ISSUE: AN EVEN CLOSER LOOK
each of the challenges selected by the NAE is important, the
challenge to engineer better medicines is particularly               One of the NSPE’s rules of practice is that “engineers shall
important, because it is directly related to sustaining the          hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public”
health of citizens, and thus civilization, by reducing               [3]. Although this is a very broad rule, it very clearly
vulnerabilities in the individual and in society.                    presents itself in the innovation of nanotechnology in
     Bettering medicine, however, is a very broad category.          imaging technologies. Engineers are ethically required to
There have been a number of recent innovations related to            provide the new technology to “the public,” which includes
the improvement of medicine. One innovation in particular            all people [3]. Because of the high probable cost of
seems monumental. Engineers and scientists have been                 nanotechnology in imaging, it is possible that the technology
collaborating to develop nanotechnology that is effective in         would be limited to the wealthy, which must be avoided in
the treatment of cancer, and lung cancer in particular. More         order to comply with the NSPE guidelines.
specifically, recent developments have been made in                       Furthermore, the cost of production may cause
nanotechnology to improve the imaging and therapy needed             engineers to seek financial support. However, this is
in the treatment of cancer. The continuation of progress in          unethical because it violates a number of the different codes
nanotechnology, although important, may present possible             presented by the NSPE, which requires that engineers do not
ethical consequences that must be analyzed and compared to           accept any kind of bribe or obtain financial support in other
the standards set forth by the NSPE (National Society of             unethical ways (including “soliciting money from a
Professional Engineers) and the Biomedical Engineering               governmental body on which a principal or officer serves as
Society.                                                             a member”) [3]. Although these options may seem viable to
                                                                     engineers, they must be avoided.
       NANOTECHNOLOGY: A CLOSER LOOK                                      The ethical issues do not end there. The NSPE’s
                                                                     guidelines go on to explain how the engineer must present
Current imaging techniques that are used include the CT              all of the data as accurately as possible and acknowledge his
scan and the MRI. The CT scan uses a single rapidly rotating         or her mistakes [3]. Seeing as nanotechnology is relatively
X-ray source to generate a large number of images [2].               new and the implementation of it in imaging technology is
However, recent developments have been underway for                  also a novel idea, engineers might encounter problems or
creating a new type of CT scan “that uses carbon nanotubes           technical flaws in their designs. They must acknowledge
(CNT), microscopic structures made of chains of carbon, as           their mistakes in these cases and provide the clients with as
an X-ray source” [2]. In fact, it will use 52 of these               much information as possible about the technology, and the
nanotubes as the X-ray sources and detectors, a drastic              possible negative outcomes that can be caused by
increase from the one X-ray source in standard CT scan               implementation of the technology.
machines. This design would decrease the amount of time                   Each of these ethical concerns is strongly supported by
needed to complete the scan because each of the 52 sources           the NSPE code of ethics and is required of all engineers.
could fire almost simultaneously [2]. The decrease in time           However, the NSPE is not the only engineering organization
would minimize the amount of radiation that the patient              with ethical guidelines that must be followed. In fact, each
would be exposed to by the X-ray sources [2]. This alone             engineering discipline has its own code of ethics that applies
would improve the health of any cancer patient and any               to innovations, technology, and projects under that specific
other patient requiring a CT scan.                                   discipline.
     The use of CNT in imaging has a number of notable                    Each of the aforementioned guidelines can also be
effects on cancer treatment. The more accurate images                found in the Biomedical Engineering Society’s code of
would allow for a more precise surgery and more complete             ethics. This code provides more detailed rules that can be
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering                                                                                           11/1/2011
                                                                                                                               Tyler Wolf

applied specifically to the biomedical field. It requires            might also be true and a student might become even more
engineers to “consider the broader consequences of their             intrigued about engineering. Either way, it provides the
work in regard to cost, availability, and delivery of health         students with an idea of what direction they would like to
care” [3]. An engineer must make sure that the technology is         pursue during their college career.
accessible to everyone who needs it to promote equality,                  Being exposed to the ethical issues present in industry,
because without an equal opportunity to access the                   academia, and elsewhere for engineers is also a useful topic
technology, an unethical situation is produced.                      of research. It can help the student put material learned
     The Biomedical Engineering Society’s code of ethics             throughout college into perspective. He or she will then have
also mentions the need to remain ethical when dealing with           a growing understanding of an engineering discipline with
financial matters. While considering the cost of a new design        respect to the ethical dimensions of design. Integrating ethics
Engineers should handle the financial needs ethically. For           into the education of young engineers will form the habit of
example, engineers should not accept financial support or            thinking ethically about any design project they may
materials from a supplier under the condition that the               encounter in the future. This approach is more effective than
designs are changed according to the supplier’s direction.           attempting to add ethical concerns after teaching efficiency
Similarly, engineers should not accept or attempt to obtain          and design. By introducing the idea of ethical concerns as
financial support from any institution that offers it in             early as freshman year, the basis on which the engineers
exchange for some special privileges involving the finished          learn will be grounded in ethics.
product. Both of these examples of unethical behavior
directly violate the guidelines set forth by both the                               WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Biomedical Engineering Society and the NSPE [3],[4].
                                                                     It’s crucial that freshmen engineering students realize that so
          THE ENVIRONMENT AND ETHICS                                 much more goes into designing and creating something new
                                                                     than just applying scientific knowledge. Even if the
These are not the only ethical situations that engineers             innovation will help meet a Grand Challenge, the process
working with this technology might encounter. In fact, being         from the drawing board to the finished product must be
environmentally friendly is a very important ethical issue           carried out in an ethical way. An assignment such as this one
that is briefly discussed in the NSPE code of ethics [3]. The        addresses the need to expose students to current engineering
technology, although extremely effective at locating                 innovations and the ethical complications that are associated
malignant cancer cells, is not very easily disposed of. The          with these innovations.
CNT that are used to improve the effectiveness and                        By researching a recent discovery in some field of
efficiency of cancer location biodegrade very slowly and             engineering students are exposed to what they may
might not be easy to repair due to their small size. Engineers       encounter in their future jobs. The assignment also teaches
should take this into consideration when making final design         students about the ethical responsibility of engineers to
plans for something that could be implemented into the               consider more than efficiency, and the importance of doing
current health care system. They must take into                      so. By examining ethical issues, the students can come to
consideration the nature of CNT and create their design such         learn more about what a job in a field of engineering might
that it minimizes negative effects on the environment by             entail. These aspects make this assignment a valuable
making the technology easier to repair.                              addition to a freshman engineering student’s coursework.

    THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION ABOUT                                                          REFERENCES
              ETHICAL ISSUES                                          [1] (2011) “Introduction to the Grand Challenges for Engineering.”
                                                                     National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges for Engineering.
This paper covers a serious and broad subject, especially for        [Online:                Web               site].             Available:
something that is being written by a. However, it is       
important for freshmen engineers to be exposed to writing            [2] Hinkal, George; Farrel, Dorothy; Hook, Sara; Panaro, Nicholas; Ptak,
assignments such as these to make them aware of the                  Krzysztof; Grodzinski, Piotr. (2001, June). “Cancer Therapy Through
                                                                     Nanomedicine.” IEEE Nanotechnology Magazine. pp. 6-12.
circumstances present in the large engineering discipline. It
                                                                     [3] (2011, Oct. 25) “NSPE Code of Ethics For Engineers.” NSPE. [Online:
is also a project that exposes freshmen engineers to real            Web site] Available:
current engineering advances. Exposing students to this              [4] (2011) “Biomedical Engineering Society Code of Ethics.” Biomedical
subject at the freshman level will help them understand              Engineering       Society.    [Online:     Web      site]    Available:
current events related to engineering, and it will make them
aware of engineering advances which might influence the
                                                                                      ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
student’s decisions about the direction he or she would like
to go in college. Perhaps after doing research on the                Aldrin, Sweeney (2006, July). “Socieal and Ethical Dimensions of
engineering Grand Challenges, a student might realize that           Nanoscale Science and Engineering Research.” Science & Engineering
                                                                     Ethics. [Online: article]. 12 (3), pp. 435-464.
engineering is not what they want to pursue. The opposite

                                                                                 Tyler Wolf

Amadei, Bernard (2011). “Engineering for the Developing World.”
National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges for Engineering.
[Online:                  Web                site].             Available:
Bourzac, Katherine. (2008, July 11). “Nanotech Revives a Cancer Drug.”
Technology           Review.        [Online:        article].   Available:
“Engineer better medicines.” (2011). National Academy of Engineering
Grand Challenges for Engineering. [Online: Web site]. Available:
Heath; R., James; Davis; E., Mark; Hood; Leroy. (2009, Feb.)
“Nanomedicine Targets Cancer.” Scientific American. [Online: article].
Lee, Robert; Jose P.D.; (2008, Jan. 1) “Self-interest, self-restraint and
corporate responsibility for nanotechnologies: Emerging dilemmas for
modern managers.” Technology Analysis & Strategic Management [Online
article]. pp. 113-125
Rennie, John. (2009, Feb.) “Nanomedicine is Coming, but Raquel Welch
(alas!) Need Not Apply.” Scientific American. [Online: article] Available:
Petherick, Anna. (2009, Dec.). “Advances in nanomedicine.” New
Statesman. [Online: article]. p. 9.
Revkin, Andrew C. (2008, Feb 20). “How Many ‘Grand’ Engineering
Challenges Are Really Policy Challenges?” New York Times. [Online
article]. Available:
S. Unger. (2010). ”Responsibility in Engineering: Victor Paschkis vs
Wernher von Braun.” IT Professional. [Online: article]. 12 (3), pp. 6-7.
Available: DOI 10.1109/MITP.2010.94
“The Grand Challenges.” National Academy of Engineering Grand
Challenges       for    Engineering.      [Online:      Video]. Available:

I would like to thank the extremely helpful librarians and the
staff at the writing center. I would also like to thank Dr.
Hamilton, who was very helpful throughout the writing
process. Naturally, Dr. Robinson deserves some credit for
being a helpful and knowledgeable professor. I would also
like to thank Janine Carlock for reviewing the assignment
with the class and offering examples and help where needed.
Finally, I would like to thank my classmates for their advice,
and my roommate for being respectful while I worked on the


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