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									The Future of Engineering Ethics
The School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering
7th September 2006

                                   Session Handout

      How can I help my students to become ethically responsible

                  Parallel Workshop Session: 12.15-13.15 and 14.15-15.15

                      Professor Ian Howard, University of Sheffield,
                         Dr Sue Chetwynd, Warwick University

Case study
John and Radu both started work a year ago at Northern Engineering, a civil
engineering company, John joining as a new graduate in civil engineering from
Dewsbury University, and Radu, a recent immigrant from Romania, having several
years experience of civil engineering practice in Romania after graduation from the
University of Alba.
The group that John and Radu joined, and which is led by Andy Bates, is the team of
structural engineers who are able to provide private and professional clients with a
range of structural engineering consultancy services. This team, composed mainly of
chartered civil engineers, is central to the business and the integrity of Northern
Northern Engineering has a programme of monitored professional development
towards Chartered Engineer status, and advertises its strengths as a company
supported by strong teams of chartered civil engineers. Both Radu and John were
put on the programme, under the guidance of their team manager, Andy. Since John
had little experience of real civil engineering practice, and Radu was unfamiliar with
both UK practice and culture, the HR manager and Andy agreed that they should
both start their monitored development from the beginning.
Every Friday the group goes to the pub for a few drinks after work. Andy always
invited both John and Radu, but although Radu had been once or twice, he didn’t
really enjoy it. He couldn’t afford to spend much on drinks, because he was saving
up to bring his wife and child over to Britain, and, while the other engineers were
reasonably welcoming, he didn’t feel he had much in common with them other than
work. Andy is, like John, a Yorkshireman.
As time went by Radu socialised less and less with the group, while he felt that John
was developing a strong personal relationship with Andy. Although Radu was
doing good work for the company, and personally felt that his contribution was
more significant than John’s, he became worried that Andy appreciated John’s work
more, and was giving him more opportunities. These feelings were reflected in the
apparent difference in their progress towards chartered engineer status.
The Future of Engineering Ethics
The School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering
7th September 2006

John received a promotion in the group two months ago, mainly as a result of the
good reference he got from Andy. His responsibilities now included more contact
with clients.
Radu has now become very worried indeed because, Pete, another Yorkshireman,
just graduated from Batley University, has joined the team. Pete seems to be
following in John’s footsteps.

   1) Do you feel Radu is being discriminated against? What do you base your
      decision on?
   2) Is there anything Northern Engineering should do to help people in Radu’s
   3) Is there anything Radu could or should do to improve his position?
   4) Everyone gets on better with some people than with others, is there anything
      wrong with helping those you like, provided you aren’t unfair to those you
      are not so friendly with.

The Future of Engineering Ethics
The School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering
7th September 2006

About two years ago, you began working for a company, Motor Systems plc, that supplies a
range of quality formed and forged parts to several major automotive companies. Motor
Systems out-sources much of the basic forming and forging, but controls the design and
specification of all its products, and does the finish-machining of several of them. You work
mainly in the design and specification area at the Motor Systems site in Milltown, but you
also liaise with the section responsible for the finish-machining, and with the purchasing
You believe that your immediate colleagues and the senior staff at Motor Systems recognise
the quality of your work and respect you.
Jim Smith is the engineering sales representative for PartForge, currently one of Motor
Systems’ main suppliers. As it happens, you and Jim were at university together, where you
cemented a strong friendship that now includes your two partners. All four of you spend
social evenings together, roughly about once every three weeks.
You and your partner have recently taken out a mortgage on a house in Milltown where you
intend to settle for several years. To do this, both of you have stretched your finances to the

Particular Issue
During the conversation on one of these social evenings in December, your partner mentions
that you both are feeling the strain from several months of demanding and intensive work, as
well as the new house, and you really need a break. A holiday somewhere warm would be
ideal, but money is tight what with the mortgage and so on.
Jim says that his parents own a villa in Southern Spain that is often empty, and that he would
be delighted to fix things up for you to stay there. He goes on to say that the rent would be
“very affordable”.
The next day, Jim telephones to let you know that he and his partner are very taken with this
idea, and they suggest all four of you going on holiday together to the villa.

What Are You Going to Do?


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