Integrity should not need to be discussed on any engineering forum. The honesty of every engineer should be assumed. That this is not the case, and that this needs to be discussed is unfortunate. It is, however reality.

Let’s start the discussion with a quick survey. You don’t need to answer, but just think these questions through:

  • Would you lie to get a good grade in school?

    Imagine you are in a science class. You’ve struggled to learn the material, but you are sitting next to someone who has done very well in the class so far. You realize you can see, and therefore copy his answers.

    Your grade is poor, his is wonderful. If you copied from him, you would get a much better grade.

    Would you do it?

  • Would you ever get someone else to do the work on your project, and then lie when turning it in about who had done it?

    Imagine you are in an engineering class. It’s the end of the semester. The final project is due in a week or so, and your project doesn’t work. You realize that, given the state of your project and what you know and understand about the engineering you’ve been learning, that there is no way you will be successful.

    Would you be willing to ask a professional to do your work for you, to get your design to work, so you could turn in a working design?

  • Would you lie to win an award?

    Imagine you are a member of a competitive collegiate engineering team.

    You can lie to improve your chances of winning a world championship, but you also realize that if you tell the truth you will never win. Perhaps you are only lying to other teams you are competing against–not even the officials.

    Would you do it?

  • Would you lie on a resume?

    Imagine you are looking for a job. As you look over your resume, you realize you don’t really have the engineering experience necessary to qualify for the job. You’ve been out of work now, though, for 6+ months and you are worried whether or not the bank will come and take your house. You know that without the experience you don’t have, you won’t get the job.

    Would you be willing to lie, and tell the hiring officer you had experiences that you never had?

  • Would you lie to get a contract?

    Imagine now that you are the engineering lead on a team bidding for a multi-billion dollar contract. If you win the contract, you will be gainfully employed for many years to come. If you lose the contract, you and many others will likely lose your jobs.

    Now, if I told you that you would win the contract if you lied, and lose the contract if you told the truth, would you lie?

  • In a similar line to the last question, Would you lie to keep a contract? Would you lie to keep your contract funded?

These are very real questions.

If you’ve never considered these sorts of questions before, you might wish to take the time to do so now.

Sadly, they are also questions that I think every engineer will encounter at some point in his career.

Sure, they start out simple and easy. I mean, who cares if you cheat on an exam? The professor? How long will he be a part of your life? However, by the time you get to the end of the list, you will find the livelihood’s of not only yourself but many others as well suddenly depend upon your actions.

So let me ask, under what condition would you be willing to lie?

The Reality of Lies

History is filled with examples of people who have made the wrong decisions when confronted by the question above. Some end up disgraced, others end up in prison. These are the lucky ones. They at least know they need to repent. Those that don’t get caught end up believing that lying is beneficial. They are then drawn to nurse a wounded conscience and do it again.

This leads to the sad reality: lies are addictive. If you do it once, circumstances will command you to lie again and again. If you start down the path, you will quickly find yourself trapped within it.

I would know, I’ve been there. I was once trapped in my own web of lies and deceit. I once thought that lies were the easiest and sometimes the only way to get out of my problems.

I have since learned painfully, though, that if you lie once, you will be compelled to lie again and again. (Prov 13:19)

Eventually, lying will rule your life. (Prov 14:12) At one time, it ruled mine.

I also know that Christ is still in the business of rescuing individuals trapped by lies. (Rom 6:16) I know this personally because he rescued me.

While this isn’t the main topic of this blog, and while I have many other things I wish to discuss, integrity is sadly a topic that must come up from time to time again. Without integrity, sound engineering is impossible.