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Engineering Ethics: Color and Technology

William A. (Trey) Brant Ph.D. & William A. (Bill) Brant, JD, PE

Course Outline

Engineering ethics must keep pace with the acceleration in technology of the color sciences; as well as the incorporation of colors into engineering in order to improve safety standards, represent data, and signify dangers, such as hazardous materials.  The significance of ethics cannot be overstated as technology outpaces our abilities to instill and enforce ethics and laws.

Please, we invite you to open the course’s first page that illustrates the course content pictorially.    

“Engineering Ethics: Color and Technology“ (EECT) provides a brief overview of important ethical principles and shows their applications with illustrated figures.  EECT applies rational ethical principles to actual problems we now face in the US and must handle. 

EECT tackles the problems concerning ethics within the various types of work environments in which we find ourselves, including warehouses, offices, environments with heavy and fast moving machinery, flames and hot metals and other materials. 

We provide up-to-date facts concerning significant technologies related to: sensory substitution devices that allow the blind to “see” colors via video cameras encoding visual information as audio output information, color technology applied to medicines, color analyses of flames for gauging temperatures, and the importance of different types of colored representations of data for scientists and engineers.   

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

After the completion of our course you will have learned:

Intended Audience

Engineers and architects interested in engineering ethics and others who are interested in color experiences and their relationship to technology, heat, energy and ethics are perfect candidates for this course. 

Benefit for Attendee

“Engineering Ethics: Color and Technology“ provides you with the skills necessary to predict and solve coming ethical problems or dilemmas rooted in various different working environments.  You learn to lead your life ethically and how to command others to do so also.  Upon the successful completion of this course you will realize what the most important problems are with the application of colors to engineering and will hone your skills to recognize ethical dilemmas before they occur, which makes you a better, more ethical professional and leader.  

Course Introduction

Ethics is crucial for every profession, social group, family and individual in relation to animals, people and the environment as a whole.  Our environments are filled with colors that vary with respect to lightness and darkness, hue etc., and it is questionable how we can best use our knowledge of colors in order to improve safety standards as well as apply them in the most ethical ways that concern us all. 

This course increases your awareness, hones your ability to discover and interpret moral problems, and gives you the tools necessary to apply ethics to problems in order to command changes and offer solutions. 

Course Content

The course content is contained in the following PDF file:

Engineering Ethics: Color and Technology

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Course Summary

The importance of color and color perception concerning our everyday lives cannot be understated.  This latter fact is understandable when one begins to explain the vast number of deficits one undergoes who has lost the ability to perceive colors as a result of brain damage (i.e., rather than as a result of being born without a type of photoreceptor within the retina of the eyes).  For instance, Sacks and Wasserman (1987, 26) and their patient describe how incredibly profound the loss of color perception affects one’s situation and outlooks, concerning every aspect of his daily life throughout the next two years after he lost the ability to perceive color due to brain damage from a car wreck and was thereby only able to see black, white and shades of gray:
“{W}ithin days (after the accident) I could distinguish letters and my vision became that of an eagle—I can see a worm wriggling a block away.  The sharpness of focus is incredible. ...     {Sacks and Wasserman claim} it was not just that colors were missing, but that what he did see had a distasteful, “dirty” look, the whites glaring, yet discolored and off-white, the blacks cavernous—everything wrong, unnatural, stained and impure . . . He saw people’s flesh, his wife’s flesh, his own flesh, as an abhorrent gray; “flesh-colored” now appeared “rat-colored” to him.  This was so even when he closed his eyes . ... The wrongness of everything was disturbing, even disgusting, and applied to every circumstance of daily life.  Thus, unable to rectify even the inner image, the idea, of various foods, he turned increasingly to black and white foods—to black olives and white rice, black coffee, and yogurt.  This at least appeared relatively normal, whereas most foods, normally colored, now appeared horribly abnormal.” 

Color promotes our tastes and feelings, which play major guiding roles concerning our behaviors.  Color promotes how we look, where and what we look at, how we decorate our homes and offices, how we relate to others, and even what we buy.  Color also promotes health and safety, the key issues in engineering ethics.   

Whether a sign tells us to yield or a traffic light to "go" or whether flames’ colorations give us an approximate degree of the temperatures of them, we know color aids in safety.   Color can be approached from different perspectives and different disciplines.  We have tried to bring color theory through the following fields: technology, philosophy, biology, medicine, psychology, computer data analysis, rocket and brain science and art.   Light and color affect humans on both a visual and non-visual basis.   Examples of color, color science, and color technology with an emphasis on engineering ethics is the cornerstone of this course. 

Sacks, O & Wasserman, R.  (1987).  “The Case of the Color Blind Painter.”  The New York Review of Books.  (Nov. 19th) pp. 25-34.    


Course references, endnotes, websites, and acknowledgments are provided with the Course Content. 


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

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DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefro