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  • 1.  Re: Engineering Ethics. Case Study 1

    Posted 01-22-2017 03:18 PM

    It is nice to see some interesting discussions raised on the ethics problem faced by Steve Rachel. I can add the following.


    The first could be the lack of protocol in the firm in its ability to establish a framework of mentor-protégé and QA/QC relationship. Such a lack is undesirable because an EIT needs feedback as a two-way process, reviews and often guidance. I can add a little note from my own experience. My career started in a country where licensure requirement is not established. Yet as a common-sense procedure all entry-level engineers are required to go through a period of close supervision and guidance before they could advance to the next level.


    The second is perhaps serious in nature because it involves the licensed engineer shouldering the liability on behalf of the firm. However, things may turn out to be not so bad, if the licensed engineer is justifiably familiar and specialized thus affording a high confidence on the performed work. 


    The third factor is on the general practicality of things. It is about the availability and distribution of billable hours. If the manager and the supervisor happen to be different persons, the problem may become very acute especially in tight projects. There may arise a conflicting situation between balancing the cost control and the review process. This excuse is not defensible however, and the concerned firms have the responsibility to resolve it in order to ensure the safety and soundness of their employees, products and services.  


    Dr. Dilip K. Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M.ASCE


    Dilip Barua M.ASCE
    Vancouver BC
    1604 6644140

  • 2.  RE: Re: Engineering Ethics. Case Study 1

    Posted 01-23-2017 11:38 AM
    Interesting discussion.  Where can I find the case study to read?

    James Rispoli P.E., BCEE, NAC, Dist.M.ASCE

  • 3.  RE: Re: Engineering Ethics. Case Study 1

    Posted 02-04-2017 09:02 AM

    Thanks for your interest. My post is related to other initiatives. Please click 'back to discussions' to see others.

    Perhaps due to mistake on my part, my post appeared separate.


    Dr. Dilip K. Barua, Ph.D, P. Eng, M. ASCE


    Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCE
    Consultant - Coastal, Port and Marine Engineering
    Vancouver, Canada

  • 4.  RE: Re: Engineering Ethics. Case Study 1

    Posted 01-26-2017 03:26 PM

    I know of a similar situation where a EIT checked the calculations done by a more experienced engineer. Since the PE on the job assigned the work to the EIT, we can assume that maybe he is using this as a training exercise and\or maybe he knows something that we do not and\or he is 100% responsible. The moral of this story is that the PE is in responsible charge – you are not! You can sleep easy at night! You are not required to investigate; but if you do and you find something grossly negligible then you should do your due diligence and report it. In any case, I would document the concern without offending anyone, this could be done by keeping a log of your conversations. The supervisor by committee approach that seems to be prevalent today frequently results in less qualified support being available to young engineers. Rachel should ask - Am I in an environment where I am learning and gaining confidence in my design abilities?

    Carl Scroggie P.E., M.ASCE


  • 5.  RE: Re: Engineering Ethics. Case Study 1

    Posted 02-09-2017 01:50 PM
    Be careful in assigning calculation review to a newer engineer.  More experienced engineers can make mistakes and the jr. engineers may not have the experience yet to notice when something's off.  I had a situation in my office where one jr. engineer was assigned calculations to design a pumping system that could potentially discharge to one of two points: one was a free discharge and the other was into a pressurized pipeline.  A second jr. engineer checked the calculations and they were mathematically correct, but when I reviewed the calculations as a final check, I noted that there was no provision in the calculations to account for the pressure at the second discharge point.  So, just saying that even though things may be mathematically correct, does NOT mean they are correct from a common sense standpoint.  Needless to say, I then showed the jr. engineers what was missing and had them add the missing information into the calculations.

    I have been working for 17 years and still make occasional mistakes.  You want all calculations and deliverables to be checked, but the final checks should be by someone who knows what they are doing and is responsible for the work.

    Angela Hintz P.E., M.ASCE
    Senior Environmental Engineer
    Buffalo NY


  • 6.  RE: Re: Engineering Ethics. Case Study 1

    Posted 02-14-2017 10:17 AM
    In my opinion, if I am not making occasional mistakes,I am stagnating and failing to advance my skills.

    I try to think of "mistakes" in three categories. 

    The first is "informed decisions" that don't work out.  In one sense, those really aren't mistakes.  A decision is made to use an approach that offers a reasonable chance of working.  But sometimes the approach doesn't work.  That really isn't a mistake, but it does become a mistake if the risk that it might not work hasn't been adequately or effectively conveyed to decision-makers.   The key issue with these types of "mistakes" is being sure that we have adequately and appropriately communicated risks as well as benefits.  We especially need to be sure that decision-makers have grasped the risks.  Too many of them obsess on the upside and discount the downside, until the downside bites them. 

    The other two categories or mistakes of omission and mistakes of commission. Mistakes of omission are the failure to consider something that should have been considered.  To take a contemporary example, let's say that an emergency spillway is designed for a dam, and a hydraulic design for the spillway is prepared that will handle the defined maximum event. But the design process fails to consider whether that release will cause downstream erosion that will undermine the spillway structure. 

    Mistakes of commission are where I simply make an error in method or calculation.

    As professionals, we need to be sure that we have systematic procedures not only to identify mistakes of commission, but mistakes of omission. During my career I have had the good fortune of being introduced to the failure analysis methodologies

    Stephen Nelson P.E., M.ASCE
    Coal Creek Envtl Assoc
    Bellevue WA
    (425) 746-7509

  • 7.  RE: Re: Engineering Ethics. Case Study 1

    Posted 02-15-2017 12:14 PM
    In response to Mr Nelson's three "mistake" scenarios, I would respectfully suggest it is the first of those that can easily become an ethical problem, particularly with younger, less conservative engineers.

    Many years ago, when I was a junior designer, I came up with what I thought was an innovative means of achieving storm water management, while projecting a significant potential cost savings to my client. The engineer under whom I was working, disapproved my idea, saying, "Sound engineering consists of finding common solutions to uncommon problems."

    In the firm where I am currently working, we have a saying that we  try to follow: "We do not invent the wheel; we merely roll with the wheel that is given us."

    Both of these statements say the same thing: it is incumbent on us as engineers to be careful that we do not sacrifice safety in design for the sake of invention.

    David Booth P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer
    Westminster MD

  • 8.  RE: Re: Engineering Ethics. Case Study 1

    Posted 02-06-2017 09:44 AM
    I have followed this discussion with interest.  I was an engineering manager for a manufacture in the past with 8 engineers under me.  For the new engineers (1-year or less) I would tell them to work with one of the more experienced engineer.  This was after I would advise that particular engineer what project on which the engineer would be working.  I would then review the work (the better senior engineers would have been actively involved and checked the work).  After the engineer had been working for a year they needed to be able to start to handle more responsibilities on a project and know when they needed to ask a question. I still would review the work looking for deficiencies but may not have said anything unless I found a serious error.  If an engineer did not have the skill set or was working on developing their skills, then they needed to move to an organization which had a larger support structure.  
        My group provided engineering support for just one 6 disciplines.  I was also responsible for signing off on all the structural drawings which I also to checked for accuracy.  I suspect some of the engineers that worked under me may have thought I was not looking at their work. The lesson learned for engineering managers from this case is to make sure that the engineer knows their work is being reviewed and to always ask if they are concerned about an issue or would like to discuss their work.   

    David Lewis, P.E. P.E., M.ASCE

  • 9.  RE: Re: Engineering Ethics. Case Study 1

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 02-16-2017 08:19 PM
    This post was removed