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During my second and third year, COVID made all my engineering exams online. The exams were not proctored. Some of the exams I cheated by working with a group of friends. One person would have the exam open and we all would help and gain extra time by working on the solutions before we did our test. I would look at my friend's exam and keep notes of the answers and work out the solutions/methods in my own time before going on to do my exam. Our exam question are not all the same - they do change it up a bit between each student - however, some of the questions would be the same and some would just have different values but same layout of the question. Because of how the lecturers set up the exam I got grades that were average around 40-70% in some of those exams, although my assignments helped boost those grades up. I know that when you do an engineering exam you still need to know the topics and how to apply the methods therefore some of those exams were lower than others.

After my undergrad I decided to do a master's in which I did not cheat apart from getting help on a online quiz for one of the courses.

I never plagiarised or paid someone to do my work, I only collaborated with my friend during some of my online exams and assignments.

I know what I did is cheating in some of these exams including some finals and assignment, I regret ever doing it, I feel ashamed and guilty and rightfully so. I just can’t comprehend why I did this, I wish the exams were in an exam hall.

I want advice on what I should do next. I’ve graduated and working as a graduate engineer in an engineering company. I feel like I don’t deserve this job and that I’m a fraud. I also feel like I don’t deserve the degree and that I should revoke the degree and tell the university about what I did. I aspired to be an engineer ever since I started this course and want to be a professional engineer in the future with a chartered engineer status. But I feel what I’ve done in the past means that I cannot achieve this as I would be a fraud and unethical because I cheated in those exams.

Should I leave engineering? Return my degree and tell the university? Am I a fraud? Should I work toward an engineering chartership (professional engineering)?


Thank you all for the advice, I feel a bit better from reading everyone’s comments. Honestly, I really could not sleep and work because of this guilt. I have decided to move on and not expose my cheating and take this as a lesson for myself. I’ll continue to work in engineering and be the best I can in my work. I’ll work towards my chartership which will take some years to achieve but I believe that I can build and repair my integrity and ethics while working in industry as an engineer. I’ll hope this will be enough for me to achieve my goals and someday be a professional engineer that can be a leader. I hope the mistakes I’ve made at university will be compensated through my work in industry. On the point of safety critical work (my work includes safety critical work), I’ll ensure my work is done to the standards and regulations in my industry and always keep an eye out for any unethical practices. I’ll also try and go through my lecture notes on those courses and try and understand them better - although those courses do not help me with my current work but you never know I may may work in those specific field in the future. In addition, I’ll work on learning new stuff to support my future.

You do not understand how helpful it was to receive feedback from you guys. I felt like I was in a dark place but I’m glad I’ve found some light. I’m an engineer and not a fraud, I feel so bad and guilty but I believe I can give back to the community and work hard in my field. Thank you all for your help.

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    Maybe talk it over with your priest or therapist or best friend.
    – Boba Fit
    Mar 24, 2023 at 13:32

2 Answers 2

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While there is nothing in your past behavior, as described, that indicates that you were honest, I suggest that you let the past be the past and move on.

In fact, it was yourself that you cheated, not just "the system". There are possibly some things that you should have learned but did not, by taking shortcuts. Or, should have learned more deeply, in fact. But even that is in the past, and you may have learned those things since.

Since you seem to be feeling guilty, you may also have learned some lessons about honesty that should serve you well going forward.

But the point of education is learning, a point which is too often ignored.

Let it go. There is a phrase in the Bible: Go and sin no more. We can all learn. We can all change. Beating yourself up over it or something like returning the degree does no one any good, provided that you act responsibly in your engineering practice, including making sure that you do have the required skills.

Continuing to obsess over it is a form of self defeating behavior, actually.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Academia Meta, or in Academia Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 26, 2023 at 15:22
  • Hi again, I’m trying to move on from this but my mind keeps making me feel guilt. How does one simply move on if they are constantly reminded of their past. My mind keeps bringing up that I’m a fraud. I just don’t know what to do. I would just like to know if I’m a fraud because of this. I don’t want to wrong my employers nor do I want to wrong the clients. Sorry for bringing this up again.
    – Anon
    Apr 12, 2023 at 10:22
  • @Anon did you learn what they were teaching?
    – user253751
    Apr 26, 2023 at 16:11
  • Yes I did attend the lectures and watch the recordings for it. I did revise, although I gave into the temptation of collaborating with others during the exams.
    – Anon
    Apr 26, 2023 at 20:14
  • There were some topics that were difficult to understand so I would rush through them
    – Anon
    Apr 26, 2023 at 20:22
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(1) You did cheat and obtain your bachelor's degree fraudulently. However, only parts of your study were impacted by your dishonesty, and presumably, during the Covid pandemic, many others fell into the same or similar temptations.

(2) You are planning on obtaining a professional engineer's degree that will (I hope, you do not give your country) test and certify your competence. Work for that and your cheating will become unimportant. Alternatively, seek out other professional qualifications that include a certification of your skills. This will ease your conscience.

(3) For the future, learn that you can give in to temptation and that you need to build up resistance, such as pride in your educational accomplishments and in your professional standings. People who are aware of their short-comings are actually better qualified to work in ethically gray areas. As a working engineer, you should and build up a reputation of someone who does not bend rules. If you achieve this, then your cheating has turned into something positive.

(4) Given the lack of gravity of your offense, there is no need to inform the university or offer to "give back your degree".

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  • PE is based on an undergraduate degree.
    – fectin
    Apr 27, 2023 at 22:33
  • My country doesn’t do PE, it has chartership which requires engineers to meet the competencies laid out by the council. There’s no exam but there is an interview where you have to provide evidence of meeting the competencies - which includes the academic education accreditation as well as number of years in the industry).
    – Anon
    Apr 28, 2023 at 8:04

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