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1 Recipe for Disaster: Engineering without Ethics Slides: Courtesy of Dr. Dianne Martin Presented by Prof. S. Ahmadi Presented by Prof. S. Ahmadi.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Recipe for Disaster: Engineering without Ethics Slides: Courtesy of Dr. Dianne Martin Presented by Prof. S. Ahmadi Presented by Prof. S. Ahmadi."— Presentation transcript:


2 1 Recipe for Disaster: Engineering without Ethics Slides: Courtesy of Dr. Dianne Martin Presented by Prof. S. Ahmadi Presented by Prof. S. Ahmadi

3 2 1970’s: The Ford Pinto Case During crash tests which proceeded the introduction of the Pinto to the public, it became evident that there was a serious design flaw. The gas tank was so designed that when it was involved in a rear end collision at an impact speed of 20 MPH or greater, the tank was apt to rupture, causing a fire and explosion. The tank was only 5” forward of the rear sheet metal of the body and only 3” from the back rear axle. In most rear-end crashes, the axle housing deformed the tank and sharp bolts punctured the tank. Following crash tests, the conclusion was that the rear end structure was not satisfactory. Suggested changes would have cost about $11 per car. A confidential company memo directed that the safety features not be adopted at that time until required by law. Deciding factors: $1,999, < 2,000lbs ECONOMICS OR ETHICS ???

4 3 The Cherynobyl Lesson - 1986 Worst disaster in modern times was no accident! Modern disaster lesson : –Highly intelligent engineers and scientists –Advanced technologies –Unethical decisions

5 4 Ethics and Engineering Where the ethical issues can arise: –Conceptualization, Design, Testing, Manufacturing, Sales, Service –Supervision and Project Teams »Project timelines and budgets »Expectations, opinions, or judgments –Products: Unsafe or Less than Useful »Designed for obsolescence »Inferior materials or components »Unforeseen harmful effects to society

6 5  Raise awareness - ethics radar  Make decisions – make the right choice  Take action – do the right thing  Personal integrity and self-respect  # 1 element of professional reputation  Good Ethics -> Good Business! Why Focus on Ethics?

7 6 Results of the Ethics Equation Quality products Conservation of resources Pride in work Public safety Timeliness GOOD BUSINESS Shoddy products Waste, fraud, greed Abuse of expertise Guilt, fear Lack of safety Cutting corners –poor design –rushed testing DISASTERS! ETHICAL BEHAVIOR UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR

8 7 Ethics will be THE issue of the 21st Century Modern recipe for disaster: –Highly intelligent engineers and scientists –Advanced technologies –Unethical decisions Remember Cherynobyl, Challenger, Pinto, Robert Morris computer virus, Mars lander.....

9 8 Analysis of an Ethical Quandary 1. Who are the “stakeholders?” 2. What are the KEY statements (clues) in the problem? 3. What are the legal considerations? 4. What are the possible actions to be taken? (generate options) 5. Is there a clearly “right” action to be taken? (evaluate options)

10 9 Lab Ethics Case Study: Computer Privacy True case: The Dean of the Harvard Divinity School was having problems with his university-issued computer that he was working on at home. He requested to have someone from the Harvard Academic Computing Services come to his house to check out the problem. When the technician was there, she noted that the hard-drive of the computer was full of 100’s of large graphics files. Upon opening one to determine what was going on, the techie discovered that it was a inappropriate photoghraphs from theinternet. Checking several files revealed that the Deanhad filled up his hard-drive with porn images downloaded from the Internet. The techie added more memory to the hard-drive so the computer would work properly again, but he was concerned about whether he should report this to the systems administrator, since Harvard had a computer user policy stating that users were not to abuse the computer resources by excessive downloads from the Internet. Should he report this or not? If so, to whom should he report it? You will be given more information about this case in your lab. For now, who are the stakeholders? What are possible actions to be taken? Without any more information, what would you do?

11 10 So Why Bother With Ethics?? Special knowledge Involved in decision-making Engineering pervades society BOTTOM LINE: Practicing engineers are more apt to get into trouble as a result of a failure to properly anticipate and handle ethical problems rather than as a result of a traditional engineering problems!

12 11 Ethics as a GW Student: Academic Integrity GW Code of Academic Integrity We, the Students, Faculty, Librarians and Administration of The George Washington University, believing academic honesty to be central to the mission of the University, commit ourselves to its high standards and to the promotion of academic integrity. Commitment to academic honesty upholds the mutual respect and moral integrity that our community values and nurtures. To this end, we have established The George Washington University Code of Academic Integrity.

13 12 Definition of Academic Dishonesty Academic dishonesty is defined as cheating of any kind, including misrepresenting one's own work, taking credit for the work of others without crediting them and without appropriate authorization, and the fabrication of information. –1) Cheating –2) Fabrication –3) Plagiarism –4) Falsification and forgery of University academic documents –5) Facilitating academic dishonesty Reporting: encouraged, not required - talk to offenders or instructor or council

14 13 FAQ’s about Academic Integrity Why bother? –Pride in yourself –Pride in your work –Pride in your profession –Start on the right path Why should I care about what others do? –Value of YOUR degree is diminished! –Their future competence is diminished - they may design the bridge you drive over, the airplane you fly on, or the computer system you rely on!

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