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Unformatted text preview: Case Study “Thinking Like an Engineer: The Place of a Code of Ethics in the Practice of a Profession” The Challenger disaster is the The Challenger disaster is the foundation of the discussion. Case Study: The Challenger Case Study: The Challenger Disaster 28 January1986 Engineers who had built the Challenger knew it had not been tested in freezing conditions and might not work correctly, thus endangering the lives of the astronauts. It had been tested down to 53 degrees (oF) The forecast for the morning of the launch was for 29 degrees The engineers recommended it not be launched They were overruled by their bosses, who gave approval to NASA for the Challenger to be launched The Challenger disaster is the The Challenger disaster is the foundation of the discussion. Robert Lund (VP for Engineering at Morton Thiokol) Recommends against the launch Because of faulty Orings Jerald Mason (Lund’s boss) Asks him to reconsider Asks him to think like a manager, not an engineer Lund changes his recommendation Lund changes his recommendation The shuttle crashes seconds after The shuttle crashes seconds after takeoff Consider several questions Consider several questions
1. 2. 3. 4. What’s the difference between thinking like a manager and thinking like an engineer? Why do we have codes of ethics? Why obey one’s code of ethics? Why isn’t conscience enough? What’s the difference in thinking like a What’s the difference in thinking like a manager and thinking like an engineer? “Managers, it might be said, are trained to handle people; engineers, to handle things. To think like a manager rather than an engineer is to focus on people rather than on things.” What is “thinking like an engineer”? What is “thinking like an engineer”? “to use one’s technical knowledge of things” Asking Lund to think like a manager was asking him to ignore his technical knowledge. Why do we have codes of ethics? Why do we have codes of ethics?
“a convention between professionals” “a guide to what engineers may reasonably expect of one another” “a guide to what engineers may expect other members of profession to help each other do” Why obey one’s code? Why obey one’s code?
Protects professionals from certain pressures Such as cutting corners By making it more likely that good conduct will not be punished Protects professionals from certain consequences of competition Legitimizes the profession Why isn’t conscience enough? Why isn’t conscience enough? It is important for the engineers to realize the engineer’s paramount responsibility is for the safety of the public. The all seven crew members in the crew compartment were not aware of the design flaw in the cold effects on the Orings. The engineers had some knowledge of the flaw and the ability to foresee the potential dangers. They had informed their superiors of the possible dangers, but they failed to insist in cancelling the flight. They could have referred to the Code of Ethics before making a decision. What were Lund’s two ethical What were Lund’s two ethical options? “To either refuse to authorize the launch” “To insist that the astronauts be briefed in order to get their informed consent” What were Lund’s last resort? What were Lund’s last resort? If getting no satisfactory response from his immediate superiors, they should exhaust the channels available within the corporation. If they notified the directors about the captioned concerns but neither received any response, “WhistleBlowing” is always the LAST RESORT for their action. “Whistleblowing” the act of a man or woman who, believing that the public interest overrides the interest of the organization he[she] serves, publicly “blows the whistle” Code of Ethics for Engineers Code of Ethics for Engineers
(Ref. National Society of Professional Engineer) Fundamental Canons Engineers, in fulfilment of their professional duties, shall: 1. Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties 2. Perform services only in areas of their competence 3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner 4. Act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees 5. Avoid deceptive acts in the solicitation of professional employment Code of Ethics for Engineers
(Ref. National Society of Professional Engineers) Professional Obligations Professional Obligations
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Engineers shall be guided in all their professional relations by the highest standards of integrity Engineer shall at all times strive to serve the public interest Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice which is likely to discredit the profession or deceive the public Engineers shall not disclose confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer without his consent Engineers shall not be influenced in their professional duties by conflicting interests Code of Ethics for Engineers Code of Ethics for Engineers
(Ref. National Society of Professional Engineers)
1. 1. 2. Engineers shall uphold the principle of appropriate and adequate compensation for those engaged in engineering work Engineer shall not attempt to obtain employment or advancement or professional engagements by untruthfully criticising other engineers, or by other improper or questionable methods Engineers shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice or employment of other engineers, nor untruthfully criticise other engineers' work. Engineers who believe others are guilty of unethical or illegal practice shall present such information to the proper authority for action Code of Ethics for Engineers Code of Ethics for Engineers
(Ref. National Society of Professional Engineers)
1. 2. 3. Engineers shall accept responsibility for their professional activities; provided, however, that Engineers may seek indemnification for professional services arising out of their practice for other than gross negligence, where the Engineer's interests cannot otherwise be protected Engineer shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due and will recognise the proprietary interests of others Engineers shall cooperate in extending the effectiveness of the profession by interchanging information and experience with other engineers and students, and will endeavour to provide opportunity for the professional development and advancement of engineers under their supervision How can an Engineer resolve a conflict How can an Engineer resolve a conflict in ethical standards with his client? For instance, engineers are expected to investigate products for safety even if the client does not explicitly demand it. The public expects that engineers will do what is necessary to protect them, than what is merrily required by the client, even if that may cause conflicts with their clients. (Rule 3 of the Code) However, when disagreements over ethical standards arise between engineers and their clients, it is the decision of the engineer to either quit or continue work on the project Personal Ethics – Personal Ethics – everyday examples
• • • • • • • • Software piracy Expense account padding Copying of homework or tests Income taxes “Borrowing” nuts and bolts, office supplies from employer Copying of Videos or CD’s Plagiarism Using the copy machine at work GENERAL CASE STUDY
Suppose a project was given to each one of you last week. Each of you are expected to work on the project and submit your reports individually. This project is assumed to comprise about 30% of your final course score. Many of you have noticed the unseriousness of a member of your class (Student A) in coming to lectures, submitting assignments and projects. Unfortunately, this behavior is also seen in this student in the work expected for the project. Incidentally, in the computer lab, one day before submission, you (Student C) saw this unserious student copying the entire text, formulas and graphs of another student B. Questions Questions
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. What ethical principles have been violated in this situation? What response would you as Student C give to this situation? As the lecturer, what response will you give? What information do you think may prevent you from reacting as you have dictated in (2). Does the information in (4) justify your inaction in any way? GENERAL CASE STUDY
In a test/exam situation, you (Student A) noticed Student B cheating. 1. Student B, justify your cheating. 2. Student A, what would you do? 3. What response are you likely to get from the class given your action in (2) above? 4. If you were caught (Student B), what do you RECOMMEND to happen to you? Critical Skills beyond technical skills that Engineering Students Need
To achieve skills to resolve ethical issues, here are some traits we should develop: Students Need to Develop Understanding ... 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 HKIE and elsewhere. Students Need to Develop Comprehension ...
“Knowing What’s Right” Students Need to Develop A Desire ...and the Willingness Willingness
...to “Do What’s Right” Students Need to Develop The Ability
to resolve ethical issues by using traditional engineering methods of inquiry, namely:
² Listing our options
² Testing our options
² Making a decision, and
² Most importantly, Acting ! If the “Ethics Rope” Breaks, We all lose ! Ethical Issues are Seldom Ethical Issues are Seldom Black and White
Loyalty to company and colleagues Concern for public welfare Personal gain, ambition Ethical standards are usually relative and personal, there is seldom an absolute standard DC10 Cargo Door – An Example DC10 Cargo Door – An Example
• • • On June 12, 1972 A DC10 left Detroit with 67 passengers, after reaching 12,000 ft, the cargo door blew off, collapsing floor and disrupting all hydraulic controls to tail section. Only the pilot’s skill and the light load prevented a disaster. June 27, 1972 Daniel Applegate, Director of Product Engineering for Convair, the fuselage contractor, wrote a memo to his supervisors detailing potential problems of cargo door. The problem was first recognized in Aug 69. The same thing had also happened in a ground test in 1970. Recognized design flaws floor, latch DC10 Cargo Door DC10 Cargo Door
• • After the Detroit neardisaster, NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) investigation revealed several problems and recommended immediate design changes. FAA did not follow NTSB recommendations. FAA director John Shaffer and Douglas President Jackson McGowan reached a gentleman’s agreement to voluntarily fix problem, but no further official action was taken. In July 1972, Three inspectors at Long Beach plant certified that Ship 29 had been modified (but it was not). Two years later, after leaving Paris, its cargo door blew off at 13,000 feet, killing 346 people
. Why Did This Accident Why Did This Accident Happen?
• • • McDonnell Douglas was in precarious financial condition trying to beat Lockheed L1011 to market Convair did not push too hard, since by contract, they may have been held liable for the costs of all design changes Engineers pressed the matter through normal channels to the highest levels within both companies, but did not take it any further Further action Dan should take Further action Dan should take for Prevention
1. 2. 3. If getting no satisfaction from his immediate superiors, Dan should exhaust the channels available within the corporation, including going to the board of directors. If Dan notified the directors about the captioned concerns but neither received any response, “WhistleBlowing” is always the LAST RESORT for his action. “Whistleblowing” the act of a man or woman who, believing that the public interest overrides the interest of the organization he[she] serves, publicly “blows the whistle” if the organization is involved in corrupt, illegal, fraudulent, or harmful activity. Dan should be responsible Dan should be responsible for the incident – – – It is important for Dan, or any engineer, to realize the engineer’s paramount responsibility is for the safety of the public. The passengers the DC10 were not aware of the design flaws, they rely their safety on the professional ethics of engineers. Dan had the knowledge and the ability to foresee the potential dangers caused by the design flaws, but he failed to mention possible consequences of ignoring his concerns to the highest levels of management. Neither “WhistleBlowing” to the public if the top management did not respond. – A Case Study in Engineering Ethics A Case Study in Engineering Ethics We ask you to consider Sara’s situation from 3 viewpoints: 1. A “personal” viewpoint consider that “you” 1. A “ are the engineer facing the ethical issue. 2. An “impersonal” viewpoint assume you are aware of the situation, but not directly involved. 3. A “responsible” viewpoint assume that you are directly responsible for future decisions. Sara… by the Lake Sara… by the Lake Sara has been reported to her HKIE Engineer’s Board for a possible ethics violation. She reflects on how she got to this point. Sara… the early years Sara… the early years Graduated from a HKIEaccredited program Worked under the supervision of a chartered engineer for almost 4 years Just before she took the Chartered Engineer Exam... Sara and 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... 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... To Report, or NOT to Report... She felt the strain of the strict confidentiality requirement She did not want to damage the client relationship... The Decision... The Decision...
She verbally informed the client about the problem She made an “oblique” reference to the problem in her report Those Nagging Doubts... 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 Questions for Discussion As she felt the strain of the strict confidentiality and neither to damage the client relationship, she struggled with whether she should have been more persistent in making her concerns known. Based on the “Code of Ethics for Engineers”, how did Sara resolve the conflict in ethical standards with the client? Time Passes…….. Time Passes…….. Sara had became a chartered engineer The Apartment Complex, The Apartment Complex, Again... Sara’s investigation of the apartment complex so many years ago resurfaced. The Apartment Complex, The Apartment Complex, Again...
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 deficiencies. Thinking it Over Thinking it Over Sara pondered her situation. Legally, she felt she might claim some immunity since she was not a chartered engineer at the time of her work Professionally, she keenly felt she had let the public down. Input from the Code of Ethics Input from the Code of Ethics Having carefully studied the HKIE Code of Ethics, Sara now realized that occasionally some elements of the code may be in conflict with other elements. Input from the Code of Ethics Input from the Code of Ethics
s 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 Questions for Discussion
List some options whereby Sara might have resolved this basic conflict. Should Sara be responsible for what happened? Justify your verdict. Sara Before the BOARD Sara Before the BOARD The meeting with the Charter Board began early the following morning. The BOARD Finds... The BOARD Finds... It is important for Sara, or any chartered 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 a chartered engineer, Sara had some knowledge of city building codes and the ability to foresee the potential dangers. 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 Code of Ethics before making a decision. From the Code of Ethics Canon 1. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public…. Questions for Discussion
s If in the first place, Sara had notified her supervisor and even the board of directors about the captioned concerns but received no response. What was the last resort she could take? WhistleBlowing WhistleBlowing
Always the LAST RESORT, it indicates serious corporate culture problems Can be internal as well as external Definition depends on one’s point of view: “Whistleblowing” the act of a man or woman who, believing that the public interest overrides the interest of the organization he[sic] serves, publicly “blows the whistle” if the organization is involved in corrupt, illegal, fraudulent, or harmful activity. Examples of problems that Examples of problems that might warrant whistleblowing
• • • • • Incompetence Criminal Behavior Unethical Policies Threat to Public Safety Injustices to Workers Moral Guidelines to Moral Guidelines to WhistleBlowing It is morally permissible for engineers to engage in external whistleblowing concerning safety:
1. If the harm that will be done by the product to the public is serious and considerable 2. If they make their concerns known to their superiors 3. If getting no satisfaction from their immediate superiors, they exhaust the channels available within the corporation, including going to the board of directors. WhistleBlowing (cont) WhistleBlowing (cont)
In order for whistleblowing to be morally obligatory however, two further conditions are given:
4. He [or she] must have documented evidence that would convince a reasonable, impartial observer that his [or her] view of the situation is correct and the company policy wrong. 5. There must be strong evidence that making the information public will in fact prevent the threatened serious harm. Summary Summary
• • • • Where you draw the line is your choice Corporate ethics begins with each person You can be held personally and legally responsible for your professional actions It is important to understand your company’s attitude toward ethics it should be a factor in your choice of employer ...
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- Spring '10