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Summarize all possible conflicts of interest as per NSPE code of ethics. List all Fundamental Cannons, and which Rules of Practice or Professional Obligations, which are compromised in the case study.  

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Ethics Case Study
Name: _______________________
23 Mar 2019
This is a take home assignment, carefully read all questions before answering. Be sure to CITE ALL YOUR WORK,
page numbers for texts, Time Stamps for Videos, links for internet, etc… No credit will be given for answers that do not
provide specifically how the response was obtained. You may discuss with your classmates, but must turn in your own
unique work (Don’t cut & paste).
• Read NSPE code of ethics – PDF posted on Blackboard
• Summarize all possible conflicts of interest as per NSPE code of ethics. List all Fundamental
Cannons, and which Rules of Practice or Professional Obligations, which are compromised in
the case study.
• Cite case studies which may have merit upon the case presented – cases in lecture slides
• This is professional response, use paragraphs, proper grammar, MLA citation, etc…
• What ethical issues did Jack face?
• What happened in the testing? (issues to think on below)
o Did Jack fake the results or just make an error of some type?
o Did Jack have enough time to do the job right?
o Is it ethical to let a co-op student do a job this important?
The Co-Op Student
Project leader Bruce Barton was being sorely pressed to complete the development of several
engineering prototypes for a field test of a new appliance model for the XYZ Company. One particular
plastic component of the new model had given difficulty in laboratory test as it failed repeatedly before
reaching the stress level necessary for successful operation. Bruce had directed a redesign of the
component using a tough new engineering plastic recommended by the Research Laboratory’s Material
Science Department. Stress tests needed to be run on the redesigned component, but Bruce was running
short of time and needed to get on with building the prototype.
Bruce sought out the manager of the Material Science Department for help in running stress test
on samples of the new component. With this assistance he could go ahead with prototype building and
conduct the tests concurrently. The prototypes, of course, would not be released to field test until the
stress tests on the redesigned component proved its design to be satisfactory.
Tom Mason, manager of the Material Science Department, was willing to assist because he knew
how critical completion of the development was to XYZ’s future appliance plans. However, this was
also a busy time for Tom’s department. So, Tom suggested to Bruce that he could assign the test work to
one of the engineering co-op students. Tom was also coordinator of engineering co-op students, and he
liked to use the co-op students in demanding situations to give them practical experience.
Tom assigned the test work to Jack Jacobs, an engineering co-op student from the State
University who was completing his work session at XYZ. Jack was familiar with the test equipment and
previously had done similar test work. Jack was a good student and his co-op work had been usually
well done. Tom commented to Jack that he would need to work diligently to complete the tests before he
had to return to State University.
Jack completed the tests on schedule and turned in a report to Tom indicating the component had
successfully passed the stress tests. Upon completion of the test report Jack returned to the university for
his next school session. Tom gave Bruce the good news. The prototypes were completed and the field
test of these prototypes got underway on schedule.
Ethics Case Study
A few weeks later, Bruce rushed into Tom’s office to tell him that most of the prototypes were
out of operation because of a catastrophic failure of the component that had been tested in Tom’s lab.
Bruce wanted to discuss the test immediately with Jack, but Jack had already returned to the university,
so he and Tom settled for studying Jack’s lab notebook in detail.
After review Tom said, “Bruce, I hate to say it but these data look too good. I know the equipment and
there should be more scatter in the measurements Jack took. I think some, if not all, these measurements
are in error or they have been faked! At best, Jack probably took a few points and ‘extrapolated’ the
Code of Ethics for Engineers
Engineering is an important and learned profession. As members of this
profession, engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty
and integrity. Engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for
all people. Accordingly, the services provided by engineers require honesty,
impartiality, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the
public health, safety, and welfare. Engineers must perform under a standard of
professional behavior that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical
I. Fundamental Canons
Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:
1. Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.
2. Perform services only in areas of their competence.
3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
5. Avoid deceptive acts.
6. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and
lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness
of the profession.
II. Rules of Practice
1. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare
of the public.
a. If engineers’ judgment is overruled under circumstances that
endanger life or property, they shall notify their employer or client
and such other authority as may be appropriate.
b. Engineers shall approve only those engineering documents that are
in conformity with applicable standards.
c. Engineers shall not reveal facts, data, or information without the
prior consent of the client or employer except as authorized or
required by law or this Code.
d. Engineers shall not permit the use of their name or associate in
business ventures with any person or firm that they believe is
engaged in fraudulent or dishonest enterprise.
e. Engineers shall not aid or abet the unlawful practice of engineering
by a person or firm.
f. Engineers having knowledge of any alleged violation of this Code
shall report thereon to appropriate professional bodies and, when
relevant, also to public authorities, and cooperate with the proper
authorities in furnishing such information or assistance as may be
2. Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their
a. Engineers shall undertake assignments only when qualified by
education or experience in the specific technical fields involved.
b. Engineers shall not affix their signatures to any plans or documents
dealing with subject matter in which they lack competence, nor to
any plan or document not prepared under their direction and
c. Engineers may accept assignments and assume responsibility for
coordination of an entire project and sign and seal the engineering
documents for the entire project, provided that each technical
segment is signed and sealed only by the qualified engineers who
prepared the segment.
3. Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and
truthful manner.
a. Engineers shall be objective and truthful in professional reports,
statements, or testimony. They shall include all relevant and
pertinent information in such reports, statements, or testimony,
which should bear the date indicating when it was current.
b. Engineers may express publicly technical opinions that are founded
upon knowledge of the facts and competence in the subject matter.
c. Engineers shall issue no statements, criticisms, or arguments on
technical matters that are inspired or paid for by interested parties,
unless they have prefaced their comments by explicitly identifying
the interested parties on whose behalf they are speaking, and by
revealing the existence of any interest the engineers may have in the
4. Engineers shall act for each employer or client as faithful agents or
a. Engineers shall disclose all known or potential conflicts of interest
that could influence or appear to influence their judgment or the
quality of their services.
b. Engineers shall not accept compensation, financial or otherwise,
from more than one party for services on the same project, or for
services pertaining to the same project, unless the circumstances are
fully disclosed and agreed to by all interested parties.
c. Engineers shall not solicit or accept financial or other valuable
consideration, directly or indirectly, from outside agents in
connection with the work for which they are responsible.
d. Engineers in public service as members, advisors, or employees
of a governmental or quasi-governmental body or department shall
not participate in decisions with respect to services solicited or
provided by them or their organizations in private or public
engineering practice.
e. Engineers shall not solicit or accept a contract from a governmental
body on which a principal or officer of their organization serves as
a member.
5. Engineers shall avoid deceptive acts.
a. Engineers shall not falsify their qualifications or permit
misrepresentation of their or their associates’ qualifications. They
shall not misrepresent or exaggerate their responsibility in or for the
subject matter of prior assignments.
Brochures or other
presentations incident to the solicitation of employment shall not
misrepresent pertinent facts concerning employers, employees,
associates, joint venturers, or past accomplishments.
b. Engineers shall not offer, give, solicit, or receive, either directly or
indirectly, any contribution to influence the award of a contract by
public authority, or which may be reasonably construed by the
public as having the effect or intent of influencing the awarding of a
They shall not offer any gift or other valuable
consideration in order to secure work. They shall not pay a
commission, percentage, or brokerage fee in order to secure work,
except to a bona fide employee or bona fide established commercial
or marketing agencies retained by them.
III. Professional Obligations
1. Engineers shall be guided in all their relations by the highest standards
of honesty and integrity.
a. Engineers shall acknowledge their errors and shall not distort or
alter the facts.
b. Engineers shall advise their clients or employers when they believe
a project will not be successful.
c. Engineers shall not accept outside employment to the detriment of
their regular work or interest. Before accepting any outside
engineering employment, they will notify their employers.
d. Engineers shall not attempt to attract an engineer from another
employer by false or misleading pretenses.
e. Engineers shall not promote their own interest at the expense of the
dignity and integrity of the profession.
2. Engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest.
a. Engineers are encouraged to participate in civic affairs; career
guidance for youths; and work for the advancement of the safety,
health, and well-being of their community.
b. Engineers shall not complete, sign, or seal plans and/or
specifications that are not in conformity with applicable engineering
standards. If the client or employer insists on such unprofessional
conduct, they shall notify the proper authorities and withdraw from
further service on the project.
c. Engineers are encouraged to extend public knowledge and
appreciation of engineering and its achievements.
d. Engineers are encouraged to adhere to the principles of sustainable
development1 in order to protect the environment for future
3. Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives the public.
a. Engineers shall avoid the use of statements containing a material
misrepresentation of fact or omitting a material fact.
b. Consistent with the foregoing, engineers may advertise for
recruitment of personnel.
c. Consistent with the foregoing, engineers may prepare articles for
the lay or technical press, but such articles shall not imply credit to
the author for work performed by others.
4. Engineers shall not disclose, without consent, confidential information
concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or
former client or employer, or public body on which they serve.
a. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested parties,
promote or arrange for new employment or practice in connection
with a specific project for which the engineer has gained particular
and specialized knowledge.
b. Engineers shall not, without the consent of all interested parties,
participate in or represent an adversary interest in connection with a
specific project or proceeding in which the engineer has gained
particular specialized knowledge on behalf of a former client or
5. Engineers shall not be influenced in their professional duties by
conflicting interests.
a. Engineers shall not accept financial or other considerations,
including free engineering designs, from material or equipment
suppliers for specifying their product.
b. Engineers shall not accept commissions or allowances, directly or
indirectly, from contractors or other parties dealing with clients or
employers of the engineer in connection with work for which the
engineer is responsible.
6. Engineers shall not attempt to obtain employment or advancement or
professional engagements by untruthfully criticizing other engineers,
or by other improper or questionable methods.
a. Engineers shall not request, propose, or accept a commission on a
contingent basis under circumstances in which their judgment may
be compromised.
b. Engineers in salaried positions shall accept part-time engineering
work only to the extent consistent with policies of the employer and
in accordance with ethical considerations.
c. Engineers shall not, without consent, use equipment, supplies,
laboratory, or office facilities of an employer to carry on outside
private practice.
Engineers shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly
or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice, or
employment of other engineers. Engineers who believe others are
guilty of unethical or illegal practice shall present such information
to the proper authority for action.
a. Engineers in private practice shall not review the work of another
engineer for the same client, except with the knowledge of such
engineer, or unless the connection of such engineer with the work
has been terminated.
b. Engineers in governmental, industrial, or educational employ are
entitled to review and evaluate the work of other engineers when so
required by their employment duties.
c. Engineers in sales or industrial employ are entitled to make
engineering comparisons of represented products with products of
other suppliers.
8. Engineers shall accept personal responsibility for their professional
activities, provided, however, that engineers may seek indemnification
for services arising out of their practice for other than gross
negligence, where the engineer’s interests cannot otherwise be
a. Engineers shall conform with state registration laws in the practice
of engineering.
b. Engineers shall not use association with a nonengineer, a
corporation, or partnership as a “cloak” for unethical acts.
9. Engineers shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom
credit is due, and will recognize the proprietary interests of others.
a. Engineers shall, whenever possible, name the person or persons
who may be individually responsible for designs, inventions,
writings, or other accomplishments.
b. Engineers using designs supplied by a client recognize that the
designs remain the property of the client and may not be duplicated
by the engineer for others without express permission.
c. Engineers, before undertaking work for others in connection with
which the engineer may make improvements, plans, designs,
inventions, or other records that may justify copyrights or patents,
should enter into a positive agreement regarding ownership.
d. Engineers’ designs, data, records, and notes referring exclusively to
an employer’s work are the employer’s property. The employer
should indemnify the engineer for use of the information for any
purpose other than the original purpose.
e. Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout
their careers and 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.
Footnote 1 “Sustainable development” is the challenge of meeting human
needs for natural resources, industrial products, energy, food,
transportation, shelter, and effective waste management while
conserving and protecting environmental quality and the natural
resource base essential for future development.
As Revised July 2007
“By order of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia,
former Section 11(c) of the NSPE Code of Ethics prohibiting competitive
bidding, and all policy statements, opinions, rulings or other guidelines
interpreting its scope, have been rescinded as unlawfully interfering with the
legal right of engineers, protected under the antitrust laws, to provide price
information to prospective clients; accordingly, nothing contained in the NSPE
Code of Ethics, policy statements, opinions, rulings or other guidelines prohibits
the submission of price quotations or competitive bids for engineering services
at any time or in any amount.”
Statement by NSPE Executive Committee
In order to correct misunderstandings which have been indicated in some
instances since the issuance of the Supreme Court decision and the entry of the
Final Judgment, it is noted that in its decision of April 25, 1978, the Supreme
Court of the United States declared: “The Sherman Act does not require
competitive bidding.”
It is further noted that as made clear in the Supreme Court decision:
1. Engineers and firms may individually refuse to bid for engineering services.
2. Clients are not required to seek bids for engineering services.
3. Federal, state, and local laws governing procedures to procure engineering
services are not affected, and remain in full force and effect.
4. State societies and local chapters are free to actively and aggressively seek
legislation for professional selection and negotiation procedures by public
5. State registration board rules of professional conduct, including rules
prohibiting competitive bidding for engineering services, are not affected and
remain in full force and effect. State registration boards with authority to
adopt rules of professional conduct may adopt rules governing procedures to
obtain engineering services.
6. As noted by the Supreme Court, “nothing in the judgment prevents NSPE and
its members from attempting to influence governmental action . . .”
Note: In regard to the question of application of the Code to corporations vis-a-vis real persons, business form or type should not negate nor
influence conformance of individuals to the Code. The Code deals with professional services, which services must be performed by real
persons. Real persons in turn establish and implement policies within business structures. The Code is clearly written to apply to the Engineer,
and it is incumbent on members of NSPE to endeavor to live up to its provisions. This applies to all pertinent sections of the Code.
1420 King Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314-2794
703/684-2800 • Fax:703/836-4875
Publication date as revised: July 2007 • Publication #1102
IE 4340 Project management
National Society of Professional Engineers
Jaime Cantu Ph.D.
Department of Industrial, Manufacturing, & …
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