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ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALISM AND ETHICS EGN

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ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALISM AND ETHICS EGN Powered By Docstoc
					    ENGINEERING
PROFESSIONALISM AND
       ETHICS
      EGN 4034
    FALL TERM 2008
    DR. G.HASKINS
       Chapter 2
ENGINEERING RESPONSIBILITY

 Seriousness of responsibility comes
 with expertise
 Public trust in reliable performance
   Opportunity for unscrupulous to fall short
   of the mark
 Commit to level of excellence
ENGINEERING STANDARDS

 NSPE code
   Work conform to “applicable engineering
   standards”
   Judgment, not only algorithms
 Obligation-responsibility
   Benefit clients & public
   Do not violate trust
   Forward looking responsibility
STANDARD OF CARE

 Unexpected problems may make
 “engineering standards” and SOP
 insufficient
 Then, must follow more demanding
 norm, standard of care
    STANDARD OF CARE
    AND LEGAL LIABILITY
Some level of error is acceptable
Some point it is not
Dividing line is “standard of care”
Expert opinion
Compare actions to other competent
engineers providing similar service in
same locale
HYATT REGENCY CASE #17
  Walkway collapse
  Project engineer, and chief engineer, did
  not authorize departure from original
  design
  Failed to monitor employees
  “…conscious indifference to
  professional duties…
  Did not meet SOC
  Held liable
CITICORP CENTER CASE #6

 Innovative design
 Original spec for welds on diagonals
 was not followed
 Bolted instead
 Still complied with NYC building
 codes
   Considered only 90° winds, not
   quartering
CITICORP (CONT)

 Calculation of “bolt vs weld” indicated
 unacceptable vulnerability to wind
 Engineer worked up plan for
 rectification
 Citicorp agreed despite additional
 cost
 Insurance rates decreased
 Disaster averted
CITICORP (cont)

 Building codes: general in nature
 Unlikely to predict relevant effects of
 innovations
   COLUMBIA DISASTER

Physical cause – dislodged insulating
foam
Organizational cause – NASA culture
  Values, norms, beliefs & practices of an
  organization
Organizational responsibility?
  Artificial person
  Escape individual responsibility
  Indiv and corps both held liable
LEGAL LIABILITY FOR HARM

 Intentional harm
 Gross negligence (reckless harm)
   Put others at known risk
 Negligence
   Legal obligation /standard of care
   Failure to conform
   Proximate cause
   Damage
LEGAL LIABILITY (cont.)

 Strict liability
   Inherently dangerous instrumentality
 West v Caterpillar Tractor Co.
   Strict liability in Florida
IMPEDIMENTS TO RESPONSIBLE ACTION
 Groupthink
   Illusion of invulnerability of group to
   failure
   Outsiders as adversaries
   Responsibility shift (rationalization)
   Morally non-critical
   Self-censorship (don’t rock the boat)
   Unanimity? (silence = consent)
   Direct pressure from above
   Mind-guarding (preventing introduction
   of dissenting views)
NASA: CHALLENGER & COLUMBIA

 Absence of culture of dissent

 Better engineering decisions result
 from the annealing fire of dissenting
 views

				
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