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					          Developed for ASCE
                       by the
National Institute for Engineering Ethics

   Murdough Center for Engineering Professionalism
    College of Engineering, Texas Tech University
             Lubbock, Texas 79409-1023

                   September 2001
Presented by

Insert Presenter’s name
Ethics ....

Lies at the “Core” of the
Civil Engineering

           Structures                         CIVIL    Water

                                                                                                  …and many other Civil
                                                                                                  Engineering specialties
Idea for graphic based on Professional Responsibility: The Role of the Engineer, Jnl. of Science and Engineering Ethics, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1997
                                            by Drs. Steve Nichols and Bill Weldon, UT/Austin
What is a Licensed Engineer?
 “Engineering Practice Act” -- to protect the health,
 safety and welfare of the citizens of that state.

 Having an engineering license means more than
 just meeting a State’s minimum requirements. It
 means you have accepted both the technical and
 the ethical obligations of the engineering profession.
 (Ref: ASCE Policy Statement # 433)
     Licensing: the product of collaboration
   between Industry, Government & Education

                                     Professional Associations

                           ABET                                       NCEES
                Program Accreditation                         State Licensing Boards
               EDUCATION                                     GOVERNMENT
ABET - Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
NCEES - National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying
What is a Licensed Engineer?

 The professional engineer license grants you the
 opportunity to perform engineering services for the
 public, take responsibility for your designs, reports,
 professional opinions, plans, etc., and have the
 privilege of applying your State-authorized
 engineering “seal” to your engineering work.
Engineering Licensing Jurisdictions
          - United States -

    All 50 states plus the District of Columbia,
     Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Marianas
     Islands, Marshall Islands and Virgin Islands
     400,000 Licensed Engineers (U.S.
     Engineering Population  2,000,000)
    Wyoming Enacted First Licensing Law in 1907
    Montana Last State to Enact Licensing (1947)

                    Source: “NSPE Grows as State Licensure Laws Spread,”
                    Engineering Times, Vol. 16, No. 2, February, 1994.
“Typical” Licensure Requirements for
     Civil Engineering Students
   Degree from ABET-accredited program (BS, MS)
   NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam
   Engineer-in-Training Internship (4 yrs, 3 yrs)
   Application for Licensure
       Character References
       Experience Record
       & etc.
   NCEES Principles and Practices of Engineering
    (PE) Exam
   Licensure!
Licensing Eligibility Based on Educational
      and Employment Experience
       Educational Experience
       Eng. Ph.D.

       Eng. M.S.

       Eng. Bachelors
       Other                    Engineer-In-Training                        Apply

                                  Employment Experience
    Fundamentals of        Principles and Practice of Engineering
   Engineering Exam             Exam (Sometime Waivable)
  (Sometime Waivable)

    Six to Eight Years is the Nominal Minimum Experience Requirement
          Engineering Licensure Model

         ABET Accredited
       Engineering Bachelor
         of Science Degree                                                                   Mandatory
          [or substantially                                                                  Continuing
       equivalent engineering                                                                Professional
               degree]                                                                       Competency

                                                                     Pass                    No
                                Pass                  4 Years
             FE Exam                   Engineer-in       of
                                                                         PE Exam
                                       Training      Acceptable


                                                                     Note: The number of years of acceptable
                                                                     experience depend on the academic career
                                                                     and highest earned degree.
   Civil Engineering Students
         are Encouraged!

Civil Engineering students are
encouraged to carefully prepare for
the national Fundamentals of
Engineering (FE) Exam, which may
be taken during the senior year
Why Should I Become Licensed?

 Technical Responsibility:
Your education and experience will prepare you
for technical engineering work. Your license
legally allows you to take personal responsibility
for the engineering work that you may perform
for public and private clients.
Why Should I Become Licensed?

 Public Recognition:
As a licensed engineer, you achieve an
enhanced status in the eyes of the public, which
equates you with professionals licensed in other
fields such as physicians, attorneys,
accountants, etc.
Why Should I Become Licensed?

 Private Practice:
If you think you may now, or someday, want to
pursue a career as a consulting engineer, or
own your own engineering firm, or be in
responsible charge of engineering work for the
public, you must be licensed.
Why Should I Become Licensed?

 Public Practice:
Many federal, state, and municipal agencies
require that certain responsible engineering
positions, particularly those considered “higher
level,” be filled only by licensed engineers.

(Ref: ASCE Policy Statement #385)
Why Should I Become Licensed?

 Changing Workplace:
Today’s workplace is rapidly changing: restructuring,
downsizing, privatization, and outsourcing (where
firms terminate employees and then hire them back
as consultants) are common. You should be
prepared to face a possible transition into a
consulting or contract relationship with a former
employer in the event of corporate outsourcing.
Such a relationship requires an engineering license.
Why Should I Become Licensed?

 Ethical Responsibility:
Licensure also aids you and the
profession in the important area of
ethics. While technical societies such
ASCE and others have codes of ethics for
guidance, none have “legal” standing in
the practice of engineering.
Why Should I Become Licensed?

On the other hand, state licensing boards have
standards of ethical conduct that are legally
binding. The recognition and enforcement of
these standards gives greater definition to our
profession, and significantly enhances the
image of licensed civil engineers.
Technical and Ethical Responsibilities of
Licensed Engineers?
Most of a civil engineer’s education focuses on
technical matters, that is, “how to do things right,”
and most of the engineer’s professional practice is
devoted to applying this technical knowledge in
service to the needs of society.

However, another important element of both
education and practice involves ethics, or “how to
do the right thing.”
Technical and Ethical Responsibilities of
Licensed Engineers?

 Engineering ethics is a vital part of the engineering
 profession. The ethical issues are not always easy
 to answer.

 Choosing between “good” and “bad” appears easy
 until unseen variables are introduced such as time
 constraints, family, promotion opportunities, job
 security, peer pressure, supervisor pressure, and
 professional reputation.
Technical and Ethical Responsibilities of
Licensed Engineers?

    Also, choosing between competing goods
    often confronts the civil engineer.
               -- Critical Skills --

          - beyond technical skills -

            that CE Students Need

To achieve skills to resolve ethical issues, here are
some traits we should develop:
Students Need to Develop


   ... A clear understanding
        of professional ethics
 Students Need to Develop

Communication Skills

  A capability and willingness to
    communicate ethical issues.
Students Need to Develop

    The Ability

 to recognize ethical issues.
Students Need to Develop

An Appreciation

   for the frequency at which
         ethical issues occur.
    Students Need to Develop

      An Awareness

that guidance on ethical dilemmas
            is available from ASCE
                    and elsewhere.
Students Need to Develop

Comprehension ...

     “Knowing What’s Right”
  Students Need to Develop

   A Desire ...and the

Willingness “Do What’s Right”
    Students Need to Develop

                The Ability
to resolve ethical issues by using traditional
engineering methods of inquiry, namely:

Listing our options

       Testing our options
               Making a decision, and

                      Most importantly, Acting !
If the “Ethics Rope” Breaks,

  We all lose !
Questions & Discussion
     Distribute the ASCE Brochure.
 It is suggested that students read “Sara’s” Story
in the ASCE Brochure, and consider the ways the
     ASCE Code of Ethics can provide helpful
     guidance when confronting ethical issues.
A Case Study in Engineering Ethics
We ask you to consider Sara’s
situation from 3 viewpoints:

1. A “personal” viewpoint -- consider that
“you” are the engineer facing the ethical issue.
2. An “impersonal” viewpoint -- assume you
are aware of the situation, but not directly
3. A “responsible” viewpoint -- assume that
you are directly responsible for future decisions.
1. Am I solving this issue in such a way that
will cause people to “trust” me?

2. Am I keeping my promise -- explicit?

3. What is the “first step” that I must take?

4. What do the other people mean by
       Sara… by the Lake
   Sara has been reported to her State’s
    Engineer’s Board for a possible ethics

   She reflects on how she got to this
     Sara… the early years
   Graduated from an ABET-accredited
   Took the FE Exam
   Worked under the supervision of a
    licensed engineer for almost 4 years
   Just before she took the PE Exam...
       Sara and
The Apartment Complex
 Sara’s firm was retained to
  investigate the structural integrity
  of an apartment complex.
 STRICT confidentiality required.
 Noticed no structural problems
 BUT, she did observe some
  apparent electrical deficiencies
To Report, or NOT to Report...
    Sara knew these electrical deficiencies
     might pose a hazard to the occupants

    She knew the client didn’t want to hear
     bad news
To Report, or NOT to Report...
    She felt the strain of the strict
     confidentiality requirement

    She did not want to damage the client
        The Decision...
 She verbally informed the client about
  the problem
 She made an “oblique” reference to the
  problem in her report
    Those Nagging Doubts...
 Later Sara learned the client did not
  disclose any of her concerns about the
  electrical deficiencies
 She struggled with whether she should
  have been more persistent in making
  her concerns known.
 She eventually put it out of her mind.
Questions for Discussion
What  were the main issues Sara was
 wrestling with in this situation?
Do you think Sara had a “right” or an
 “obligation” to report the deficiency to
 the proper authorities?
Who  might Sara have spoken with about
 the dilemma?
Questions for Discussion
Who   should be responsible for what
 happened: Sara, or Sara’s employer, or
 the client, or someone else?
How   does this situation conflict with
 Sara’s obligation to be faithful to her
Is it wise practice to ignore “gut
 feelings” that arise?
Time Passes……..
Involvement with Professional
    & Technical Societies
    Sara is encouraged to become active in
     professional and technical societies
    But her new supervisor opposes her
     participation and requires that Sara take
     vacation to attend meetings.
    Sara is very frustrated about this.
When Opportunity Knocks...
 When attending a meeting with the
  CEO on another matter…
 Sara inquires about company policy on
  the matter of professional society
 The CEO reaffirms the company policy
  to be active in professional societies.
   Sara informs her supervisor of the
    CEO’s support and resumes her

   Her relationship with her supervisor is
Questions for Discussion

 What  might Sara have done differently
 to seek a remedy and yet preserve her
 relationship with her supervisor?

 Where  could Sara have found guidance
 in the ASCE Code of Ethics, appropriate
 to this situation?
      Vendor Bender: The
        Christmas Ham
   As Christmas approached the following
    year, Sara discovered a gift bag on her
   Inside the gift bag was an expensive
    honey-glazed spiral cut ham.
         Why Bother?
 This concerned Sara as she felt it might
  cast doubt on the integrity of their
  business relationship.
 Several others received gifts from the
  vendor as well.
            The Decision
   After sleeping on it, Sara sent a polite
    note to the vendor returning the ham.
Questions for Discussion

   Wasshe really obligated to return the
   Or   was this taking ethics too far?
   On the other hand, could she be
   obligated to pursue the matter further
   than just returning the gift she had
      Sara for City Council!
   Sara, now a highly successful principal in
    a respected engineering firm, is urged to
    run for public office.
   She agrees to run.
   A draft political advertisement is prepared
    that includes her photograph, her
    engineering seal, and the following text:
  What’s in an “Ad”?
“Vote for Sara! We need an
 engineer on the City Council. That
 is simple common sense, isn’t it?
 Sara is an experienced licensed
 engineer with years of rich
 accomplishments, who disdains
 delays and takes action now!”
Questions for Discussion

   ShouldSara’s engineering seal be
   included in the advertisement?

   ShouldSara ask someone in ASCE his or
   her opinion before deciding?
    The Apartment Complex,
   Sara’s investigation of the apartment
    complex so many years ago resurfaced.
    The Apartment Complex,
 Sara learned that the apartment
  complex caught on fire, and people had
  been seriously injured.
 During the investigation, Sara’s report
  was reviewed, and somehow the cause
  of the fire was traced to the electrical
         Thinking it Over
   Sara pondered her situation.

   Legally, she felt she might claim some
    immunity since she was not a licensed
    engineer at the time of her work

   Professionally, she keenly felt she had
    let the public down.
      Input from the ASCE
         Code of Ethics
   Having carefully studied the ASCE Code
    of Ethics, Sara now realized that
    occasionally some elements of the code
    may be in conflict with other elements.
      Input from the ASCE
         Code of Ethics
   In her case, this was Canon 1 (her
    obligation to protect the health, safety
    and welfare of the public) versus Canon
    4 (her obligation to her client).
Questions for Discussion

   Why  do you think that Codes of Ethics
   conflict within themselves?
   What  are some ways to recognize a
   conflict of interest?
      some options whereby Sara might
   List
   have resolved this basic conflict.
    Sara Before the BOARD
   The meeting with the Licensing Board
    began early the following morning.

   The State Licensing Board only enforces
    their own Rules of Conduct and Ethics,
    but they noted that their rules are very
    similar to the ASCE Code of Ethics.
       The BOARD Finds...
Itis important for Sara, or any licensed
 engineer, to realize the engineer’s
 paramount responsibility is for the safety of
 the public.
The occupants of the apartment complex
 were not aware of the electrical deficiencies.
Although not an electrical engineer, Sara
 had some knowledge of city building codes
 and the ability to foresee the potential
The BOARD Finds… continued

Sara had informed her client of the
possible electrical deficiencies, but she
failed to mention possible consequences
of ignoring her concerns.

Sara could have referred to the ASCE
Code of Ethics before making a decision.
From the ASCE Code of Ethics

  Canon 1. Engineers shall hold
  paramount the safety, health
  and welfare of the public….
       On the way home...
   In the taxi back to the airport, Sara
    thumbed through her newspaper

   She saw an editorial about her campaign
    which claimed that, as a result of the
    allegations against her, she was no longer
    fit for public office.
    Questions for Discussion
   How should Sara respond to such
The American Society
  of Civil Engineers
wishes you a long and
 engineering career!
“Gilbane Gold” is an excellent engineering
ethics video available from NIEE at
(NIEE recently submitted a proposal to NSF requesting
funding for a sequel for Gilbane Gold.)
  We want to acknowledge ……
Questions & Discussion

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