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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
"ENGINEERING PROFESSIONALISM AND ETHICS EGN"