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National Institute for Engineering Ethics Essay

NIEE produced Henry’s Daughters to raise awareness of the ethical aspects of engineering work, advance knowledge and understanding of professional standards and public obligations and expectations, improve skills in moral reasoning, and strengthen personal dedication to exemplary conduct. Executive Producers were Joseph Herkert, Michael Loui, William Marcy, Steven Nichols, and Jimmy Smith. The entire NIEE Executive Board members served as Senior Investigators and Technical Advisors. Discussion Questions

Professional Issues
1. Are there ethical implications to Henry, a lobbyist, hosting the senator on his expensive yacht? 2. Is there a legal or ethical limit to the level at which Henry should host the senator? 3. Is there an accepted code of practice or ethics for lobbyists? If not, suggest a few ethical statements for lobbyists. 4. Was it ethical for Henry to pull strings to get Julie her internship? 5. To what extent should engineers consider the political factors and social impacts to their engineering work? Ethics and New Technology Issues

6. What are the responsibilities of engineers when developing new technologies whose risks are difficult to foresee?

7. If GUIDME has the “best” technology, why should cost and other factors matter?

8. Because the experience base for a new technology is limited, it is difficult to write technical specifications. If engineers believe that the specifications are inadequate for future needs, should they recommend a system with characteristics exceeding those specifications? Conflict of Interest

9. Was it appropriate for Henry and his daughters to work on the same project for different parties?

10. How should Laura and Henry have handled their apparent conflict of interest?

11. How should Laura and Julie have handled their apparent conflict of interest?

12. Was Laura given the project because of her engineering talents and work ethic or because of Henry’s connections? If so, this might be a conflict of interest. If you are involved in a conflict of interest, what should you do? Gender Issues

13. Does the appropriate response to sexual harassment depend on the setting – for example, whether one is in a situation with one’s peers vs. with one’s supervisor? 14. Are sexist comments disguised as “jokes” acceptable?

15. Would Henry or the senator have treated events differently if either or both of Henry’s children had been sons?

16. Does the fact that Laura and Julie are attractive enter into any part of the interaction? Should it?

17. Is there a’ glass ceiling’ issue in this story?

18. How should the engineering profession address either the glass ceiling with the men’s club issue?

19. Is it permissible for a male employee to put his hand on a female employee’s shoulders? Or vice versa? For a male employee to put his hand on another male employee’s shoulders?

20. Is it permissible for a male employee to complement the female employee’s appearance? Or vice versa? Intellectual Property Issues

21. What is proprietary information?

22. Are there ethical limits to what the sisters can share with each other about their work?

23. Is it appropriate for an engineer to discuss work matters with family members?

24. How should employees and engineers decide whether to share some of their information from work when they go home?

25. When and why might using unlicensed software be unethical?

26. Is Julie justified in feeling harmed by the fact that some work she did for OUTOCAR was used as a dissertation without giving her credit? Issues for Henry

27. What were the unethical actions of Henry?

28. What, if anything, did Henry do that was ethically laudable?

Issues for Laura
29. What were the unethical actions of Laura?

30. What, if anything, did Lara do that was ethically laudable? Issues for Julie

31. What were Julie’s unethical actions?

32. What, if anything, did Julie do that was ethically laudable?

33. As a new employee, one of the limits to the engineering work that she should perform? Issues for other characters

34. Given that the project was assured for GUIDEME, was it appropriate to assign the OUTOCAR project to Warren and Marty’s team?

35. Could Warren have done anything to swat the chain of unethical actions? How could he have ethically acted with the least residual damage?

36. Which of Barry’s actions were ethical? Unethical?

37. Was Julie treated appropriately by Barry, Warren, and Marty? 38. Was Marty’s treatment of Warren harassment?

39. Should Laura have said something about Marty’s treatment of Warren (like she did about the ogling of Julie)?

40. Which of Jeff’s actions were ethical? Unethical?

Privacy Issues

41. Given that biometric information is information about the physical condition or characteristics of individuals, is there a problem with collecting biometric information about individual vehicle drivers and passengers?

42. Does tracking vehicle location cause a violation of privacy?

43. Why might a central computer network be more threatening to individual privacy and information security than a decentralized system?

44. Should individual privacy rights be trumped by the law enforcement and safety benefits to the public from collecting such information? Vice versa? Legal, regulatory, and political issues

45. Should Sen. Bob every accused himself from the investigative committee? If not, why not? Is there anything that he should have done differently as a member of the committee?

46. How does an organization’s cop culture affect how engineers practice? How might it affect dealings with ethical issues? With legal issues? Effective Communications

47. One team meeting is marked by tensions about getting the projector started. Do ethical obligations suffer when the team is dysfunctional? Is some degree of disagreement appropriate? When does conflict become counterproductive?

48. If you were to develop an ethical corporate or organizational culture, how would you encourage workers to feel comfortable about speaking freely about ethical, safety, and legal issues, and see such discussions as an obligation?

49. What are some standards the leadership of an organization should consider when creating an environment that creates good working and communication conditions? How would you set the appropriate standards? How would you make sure that you have communicated those standards effectively so that people not only understand them but also believe you are serious about them? 50. Two organizations have an obligation to host sensitivity training for their managers and their engineers?

51. What is society taught people about sensitivity training?

52. How can sensitivity training be brought into the organization’s leadership practices?

53. How can sensitivity training be subsumed into the organizations culture?

54. What do you think you would do to promote trust and respect among your colleagues and other professionals in other departments? Safety issues

55. Do accidents just have been or are they caused?

56. Whose responsibility is it to make sure that reasonable care and attention is given to safety?
a. The engineer – designer?
b. The Department of Transportation employee?
c. Anyone who observes the problem?

57. . Did both designs involve an adequate margin of error?

58. Since complete safety is unobtainable and safety comes at a cost, what is a reasonable amount of protection from failure? Making Decisions

59. What would engineering codes of ethics say about Henry’s activities? About Lars?

60. When making final decisions, was Henry trying to meet his ethical obligations within the constraints that he had?

61. What options did Henry have?

62. What options did Lara have?

63. What options they Julie have?

64. What did you have done if you would been:
a. Henry?
b. Lara?
c. Julie?

65. Do you think that you would receive the same degree of criticism from your organization if you violated ethical standard compared to violating or missing a deadline or an objective?

66. Do you put ethical issues on the same level of importance as business objectives? Should you? Important elements of business relationships

67. What is the most critical element of effective relationships? Loyalty? Obedience? Money? Trust? Openness? Candor? Something else?

68. What role should trust play in our professional and personal interactions?

69. What role should candor play in a professional or personal relationship? 70. Would candor imply effective communications?

71. Could you envision one definition of ethics being “those activities and practices that enhance trust”? Why or why not?

72. Although you will gain many things during a professional career, other things can be taken away from you. Your job could be taken away (and it often is during economic downturns).

a. What things can never be taken away, unless you allow them to be? Can your reputation for integrity be taken away?
b. List several ways you could protect that reputation.

73. if someone says “ I trust you,” how does this make you feel about the relationship Guidance for the future In our day-to-day work, we tend to look up to our leaders, supervisors, and/or bosses for guidance and inspiration about how we conduct ourselves. If we imagined that we were the boss, we might ask additional questions. Imagine that you won’t an organization, have all the necessary money, and need to decide what to produce, where to produce it, how to produce it, and how to set up your organization.

74. What specific actions could you take as the boss to make sure that everyone in your organization felt that they should conduct themselves to the highest standards of professional conduct and professional ethics?

75. What specific attributes would you haven’t placing your organization to make sure that happened?

76. What would you do to make sure that everyone in your organization conducted themselves to the highest professional and ethical standards? Would some of the following actions come to mind?

a. Clearly define your expectations of professional/ethical actions
b. communicate those expectations effectively and continuously
c. Live the standards personally. What people see in actions is what they’re going to believe.
d. Create candor and open communication in the environment so that anyone within the organization feels free to bring up and discuss their thoughts, opinions, and ideas, but most of all, they feel free to bring up their concerns, problems, and news, be it good or bad, without fear of suffering some sort of retribution or reprisal.


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