Example Of Engineering Case Study
Study Case of American Society of Civil Engineering
Gifs- Passes to Industry Trade Show
A national water association is holding their annual conference in a major city where
Engineer A and his firm IJK Engineering are located. Engineer A and IJK Engineering have made arrangements with the national water association to purchase, for a fixed fee, an unlimited number of daily passes to the trade show portion of the conference. The normal cost of a daily pass is $150. The trade show has exhibits from manufacturers, professional service firms, and others. Engineer A and IJK Engineering distributes passes to engineers employed by IJK Engineering clients and the engineers employed by potential clients. IJK Engineering encourages the recipients of the passes to make copies and give to other fellow engineers in accordance with the arrangements.
Questions: Was it ethical for Engineer A and his firm IJK Engineering to distribute passes as set forth? Was it ethical for recipient engineer to accept the passes?
P = Policies
L = Legal
U = Universal
S = Self
P) Does the action serve the best interests of the public and the clients? Is the action consistent with ASCE’s Code of Ethics and your employer’s policies, procedures and guidelines?
It is in the best interests of the public that members of the engineering profession do everything within their powers to enhance their professional and technical skills. If engineers were to attend trade shows, they would be exposed to current technological and engineering developments that would enhance their skill sets. Distributing passes for trade shows, therefore, constitutes an action in consonance with the public interest in mind. This is in consonance with the seventh Canon: “Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout their careers, and shall provide opportunities for the professional development of those engineers under their supervision” (ASCE Code of Ethics, Canon 7).
Canon 7, part a: “Engineers should keep current in their specialty fields by engaging in professional practice, participating in continuing education courses, reading in the technical literature, and attending professional meetings and seminars” (ASCE Code of Ethics, Canon 7).
Canon 7, part d: “Engineers shall uphold the principle of mutually satisfying relationships between employers and employees with respect to terms of employment including professional grade descriptions, salary ranges, and fringe benefits” (ASCE Code of Ethics, Canon 7).
Thus, Canon 7, part a sanctions the practice adopted by Engineer A to distribute the trade show passes to his subordinates. Similarly, Canon 7, part d sanctions the practice of providing the passes to the engineers employed by the clients. The trade show passes constitute an avenue to expand knowledge as well as acceptable fringe benefits. As the passes cost $150, the amount could not be deemed excessive. Therefore, it is consistent with the code of ethics for Engineer A to distribute the passes and for the recipient engineers to receive the passes.
The BER (Board of Ethical Review) dealt with a similar situation I Case No. 60-9 involving a consulting engineer taking staff engineering employees of the client agency to lunch or dinner costing $25 per person three of four times a year and giving Christmas gifts costing $50. The Board invoked NPSE Code of Ethics Section II.5.b and concluded that the gifts in question were of sufficiently small denomination to constitute acceptable social custom and unlikely to influence decisions favorable or unfavorable to the donor. Thus the BER could have used the P in the PLUS model to come to the same conclusion for Case 12-6.
L) Is the action compliant with the spirit and letter of applicable laws and regulations?
The engineer has provided passes to trade shows costing $150. The amount is not excessive, and is also transparently shown in dealings of the engineer with the clients. This is in consonance with Canon 6: “Engineers shall act in such a manner as to uphold and enhance the honor, integrity, and dignity of the engineering profession and shall act with zero tolerance for bribery, fraud, and corruption” (ASCE Code of Ethics, Canon 6).
Canon 6, part b: “Engineers shall be scrupulously honest in their control and spending of monies, and promote effective use of resources through open, honest and impartial service with fidelity to the public, employers, associates and clients” (ASCE Code of Ethics, Canon 6).
Similarly, the BER found that the arrangement between the engineer and his clients was ‘open ended and flexible’ (NPSE Board of Ethical Review, Case No. 12-6, pg 5). The invitations were also allowed to be copied and further distributed, further diluting any pecuniary benefits.
Thus, the BER might use the L in the PLUS model, as it applied to Case No. 12-6.
U) Does it conform to the universal principles and values that the profession and your employer have adopted?
Pursuance and furtherance of knowledge is a common goal of the engineering profession. Therefore, giving passes for trade shows is aligned to the universal principles of the engineering profession. The BER qualifies the pursuance of such universal goals on the premise of two conditions: that the gift was in good taste and did not raise suspicions of favoritism. In this context, the BER held that while cases of free tickets for super bowl games, invitations to cocktails and dinners or golf outings were acceptable (NPSE Board of Ethical Review, Case No. 12-6, pg 4), gifting of costly automobiles did not pass muster (NPSE Board of Ethical Review, Case No. 12-6, pg 2). Thus, the scope and nature of the trade show passes makes it concordant with universal principles of the profession. The BER could therefore have invoked the U in the PLUS model, as it applied to Case No. 12-6.
S) Does it satisfy you own personal definition of right, good and just?
As I do not know Engineer A personally, I would have to substitute my own opinion. The case satisfies my own personal definition of right, good and just. I believe that giving away of trade show passes costing $150, with the added caveat of allowing copies to be made, is in the interests of the engineering profession, and makes good social sense. I feel Engineer A is doing a yeoman service to his profession by aligning the company’s quota of demonstrable fringe benefits towards the furtherance of knowledge and skill of the engineering fraternity. The BER similarly concludes that “there is nothing under the facts to suggest that Engineer A or IJK Engineering intended to use the tickets as “quid pro quo” to improperly influence the granting of any contract, the specific terms of any agreement, the renewal of any agreement, etc” (NPSE Board of Ethical Review, Case No. 12-6, pg 5). Thus, I feel that the BER could use the S in the PLUS model to reach the same conclusion.
ASCE. “Code of Ethics.” ASCEFoundation.org. n.d. Web. April 22, 2015.
ASCE. “The ASCE Code of Ethics: Principles, Study and Application.” Ingenieria-Civil.org. n.d. Web. April 22, 2015.
National Society of Professional Engineers (NPSE). “Case No. 12-6: Gifts- Passes to Industry Trade Show.” Print.
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