In this paper, I will discuss about the incident at Morales. I will identify some ethical, technical, and economical issues. I will also identify the stakeholders and some social and political constraint on some solutions. Finally, I will state some alternate actions and evaluate them according to basic ethical values.
Ethical responsibilities continue past the U.S. borders. Wherever the engineer practice, they should prioritize the safety and health of the public. The professionally duties of the engineers extend beyond the contract with a client or customer; the lives of workers and citizens are in their hands.
Depending on social and economic conditions, this usually defines how an engineer fulfils its professional duties.
Ethics is a crucial component for business decision making in engineering practices. Different engineers have different perspectives and can disagree with solutions when faced with difficult ethical issues. Some problems were resolved in the video by negotiations, but some other ethical issues remained untouched.
In the video, Fred faced many challenges that tested his ethics. He neglected engineering ethics when making some decisions. An example of this was when Fred had to buy materials for the construction of the plant. Due to costs being cut, Fred must decide on buying either the cheaper or more expensive materials. Chuck believed that it was completable if cheaper materials were to be used which would affect the quality of the plant. Fred disregarded the implications of the substandard materials and insisted on purchasing the substandard pipes and connectors.
Those substandard pipes and connectors were not able to withstand the extreme conditions that they were going to be used in. The group knows this will most likely cause a problem in the future, but Chuck states that the problem will no longer be on their hand and it will be the manufactures problem then. This is ethically wrong because the company should not purposely throw problems over to another department. Although Chuck is giving upper management what they want now by staying within budget, this in the long run would not benefit the company. If Fred would have raised concerns about the costs, the company could have improvised on spending rather than cutting costs.
An environmental issue that occurred during the video was what the impact of the wastewater created by the plant could have. Phaust neglected the environmental ethics by designing the manufacturing plant in Mexico due to its lack of environmental laws. The company’s desire to make profit and dominate the market encouraged the management to disregard the ethics. Maria discovers the environmental implications that the plant could have on the plant and water and begs Fred to have his reservoirs lined properly. He did not line the evaporation ponds to stop the evaporation of the dangerous chemicals at first which is ethically wrong. Fred hesitated and didn’t share his thought with Chuck or Wally at first. Luckily, Chuck agrees to line the reservoirs in the end. By talking to Chuck before bringing it up with Wally, Wally got angry with him. This broke the code of ethics because he promised Wally that he would go talk to him first about everything.
Finally, he insisted on settling for a lower cost standard sensor instead of the more expensive, but reliable ones. After Fred went through the decision-making process to conclude that a particular flange and coupling were to be used in his plant, it was too late to go back and change it. Right or wrong, the choice was now made, and it was time to see how it would hold up during the process. When Wally comes to inspect the plant, he points out to Fred that there was some residue around the pipes which was caused due to the lack of the durability that the coupling was rated to. Wally does not like that the signs of failing were appearing so early in the process, and Fred reiterates that this could have been avoided by spending more money on stronger alloy materials. This failure was due to a change in the chemical make-up of the mixture which in return caused the plant to increase the temperature and pressure by two times. This eventually led to the sensors malfunctioning and forcing the plant manager to operate the plant manually. Ultimately, this malfunction resulted in the manager’s death due to the rapid deterioration of the couplings and the pressure within the pipes.
In the end, the most important job for an engineer to do is to maintain the health and safety of the people. This also includes the safety of the surrounding environment and the society no matter where the location is. Engineers are able to design indestructible things, but do not have the budget to provide for the lasting infrastructure. So instead, engineers design things to accept failing tolerances. This was shown in the incident at Morales where the engineer was faced with ethical decisions that had to be manage. I personally believe that Fred felt the pressure from upper management and did not handle the situation ethically. I believe that as an engineer, especially having a P.E., he needed to be confident and hold his ground when facing these ethical issues. Being able to do this is the most important quality that any engineer can have.