Posts filed under ‘Education’

How Engineers are Fighting Traffic

We have been asked NJIT to post this great and informative infrographic that they have produced.  As you may know 25% of road congestion is caused by traffic collisions. Autonomous cars are one of the many technologies that will hopefully lead to a reduction in collisions and congestion. The Google car is said to have only been involved in 11 accidents during the 1.7 million miles the cars have traveled.

As you can see, by 2050 70% of populace will drive 4 million vehicles through urban areas and this is just one of the reasons that it is critical for the congestion problems to be improved. The graphic also shows many of the ways that engineers are trying to overcome this national problem.

Road Congestion Relief: How Engineers are Fighting Traffic (Click on InfoGraphic for larger view)

Congested roadways are common problems that all drivers have to deal with. Whether commuting to work or enjoying a leisurely drive through the city, it is a problem that causes a great deal of stress and unnecessary frustration. However, while it is still a large problem, many engineers are dedicating their time and resources to identifying why this problem exists and what they can do to make the problem more manageable for drivers in everyday situations. By understanding the statistics that surround road congestion problems, both engineers and drivers will be that much closer to determining how a solution can be reached. To learn more about how engineers are helping relieve traffic congestion problems, checkout the infographic below created by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Masters in Civil Engineering Online degree program.




May 28, 2015 at 1:21 pm 1 comment

Potable Water…From a Billboard?

To kickoff its application process last year, The University of Engineering & Technology of Peru addressed a serious problem while providing a message of hope.

With a poor economy and an annual rain fall of next to nothing, many citizens lack potable water. With an atmospheric humidity of 98%, the University created a billboard that not only advertised UTEC, but also captured the humidity producing potable water accessible via spigots at the bottom of the structure. This project helps hundreds of families each month.

We take water for granted here in the United States, and such an engineering project would be merely a stunt on our turf. But the ingenuity used here is not only inspiring  future engineers in Peru, but it is making an impact, and that is what I love about engineers – wherever they are in the world, they can make a tremendous impact to their communities.


Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

July 22, 2014 at 12:29 pm 1 comment

Raise the Bar for Engineering

Engineers of decades past have had more credit hours required of them compared to the engineers of today, yet engineers of today have so much more to learn than those engineers of past generations.  As a result, there is a new campaign supported by the likes of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) that is catching fire:


If you have not noticed, many engineering companies these days are requiring Masters Degrees for any candidates they consider for current or future jobs.  Why?  Today’s engineer can no longer rely solely on a Bachelors Degree and senior civil engineering staff to teach them all the knowledge and technology necessary to be successful, because they do not always understand it all themselves.   The challenges of today’s civil engineering infrastructure are much more complex than in years past, and a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering allows the engineer of today  to be more prepared to take on those complex challenges.  Universities have the continued pressure to graduate their engineering undergrads in four years, but this will not provide the undergraduate civil engineer with the knowledge and skills to meet the demands of a Professional Engineer.

Carl Mack, Ph.D,  Executive Director for the National Society of Black Engineers says, “If you want to be competitive in this global environment, in this very changing and complex world, an undergrad degree just isn’t going to cut it.”

As you will hear in the video below, education beyond the undergraduate degree has been a requirement for every learned profession except engineering.  Professional Engineering is not setting the same standards as a doctor or lawyer or any other profession that requires an advanced degree; as a result, it is time to “Raise the Bar for Engineering.”   By increasing the educational requirements for the Professional Engineer, many experts agree that this will help boost the profession to the stature where it belongs.

Take a look at the following promotional video for this initiative:

An opposing opinion was left on the YouTube page where this video was found:

“This is a misguided initiative. There is certainly very little value an engineering Masters degree would provide the practicing engineer. Most Masters degrees, and even most Bachelors degrees, are research and theory based and provide little practical knowledge for the real world. On the job experience is more valuable. To compare our profession to doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, etc. is fair, but let’s be honest, there’s no way employers are going to pay at the same level as those professions.”

This initiative seems to make sense, as the impact that engineers make on our society is overlooked for no good reason.  Their talents and skills are critical to our world, so comparing them to attorneys or doctors from a stature standpoint I do not believe is off target.

What do you think?  Are you FOR or AGAINST this campaign?

To learn more, please visit

Authored by:

Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner,
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

September 13, 2012 at 8:58 am 10 comments

Civil Engineers – Enjoy the One Project at a Time Lifestyle as Long as You Can

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP, ACC
Civil Engineer, Author, Coach and Speaker
Author of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career
Anthony is also the author of a FREE e-mail service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.

This is a guest blog post by Anthony Fasano, P.E.  Anthony is a civil engineer, engineering career coach, bestselling author and founder of Powerful Purpose Associates.

Anthony is giving away a special webinar for readers on his Powerful Purpose Associates website.  Read until the end of the post to find out how to get it.

WARNING:  You most likely will have to work on more than one project at a time in your civil engineering career, except for maybe the first few years.

I remember when I first graduated from school, I started doing structural engineering because it seemed cool to me at the time and I didn’t even know what site engineering was yet, which would eventually be my chosen discipline.  I was designing the footings and abutments for a bridge.  The design lasted for months (it felt like years) and I couldn’t wait for the next project.  If I had to sketch out one more rebar layout, I was going to jump off a bridge (no pun intended).

Fast-forward about 10 years, I was now an associate partner at a reputable engineering firm, heading up their private/site development engineering department.  The department wasn’t too big, maybe 10 people or so, however I found myself managing 15 to 20 projects at one time.  15 to 20 projects meant 15 to 20 clients, 15 to 20 budgets, 15 to 20 bills to be done, 15 to 20 bills that haven’t been paid, oh yeah and my favorite, 15 to 20 Town Planning Board Meetings!  I loved what I did and I was good at it, but it was very stressful and took a toll on both my health and my personal life.

A few years ago, I made a bold decision, and left my design-engineering career behind to become an engineering career coach.  Since that time I have coached and helped hundreds of engineers to get clear on their goals, increase productivity and improve work-family balance.  I have also given seminars to thousands of engineers on the same topics.  Through all of this work, I have found that there is 1 HUGE OBSTACLE that engineers face in their efforts to achieve career success (which means something different to everyone).

First let me give you the biggest make-believe obstacle that everyone uses as an excuse – TIME MANAGEMENT.  Time management isn’t really the obstacle that most engineers face.  The obstacle leads to poor time management, but it is not related to time management.  The #1 obstacle that engineers face in their career is LACK OF FOCUS.  That’s right LACK OF FOCUS.  Sound familiar?  Are you able to read through an entire e-mail without getting a phone call?  Are you able to finish a design task or report on one project before a client calls with a fire that you have to put out?

The answer to those questions is probably “NO!” How many of you would love to go back in time, just for a day, to when you started your engineering career so that you could work on just one task all day long without interruption?  Go ahead and raise your hand – I have mine raised!

So what can we do to try to improve our focus?  Here are a few recommendations based on my work with engineers and my study of this topic:

1.    Establish some of your most important tasks for the day and do them before you do ANYTHING else.  When deciding on these tasks, assume that you would only be able to get those tasks done that day – if that was the case would the day be a success?

2.    Try to do less things.  I know what you are thinking, if my job is to manage 15 projects, how can I do less.  Make a list of everything you do and wherever possible start delegating tasks.

3.    Space meetings and phone conferences out.  Engineers try to be as efficient as possible and schedule phone calls and meetings one after the other to avoid dead space in their day.  Unfortunately this approach often leads to rushed meetings or missed conference calls and keeps you in that “I have to hurry because I have something right after this” mentality.

4.    Don’t let other people manage your time (as much as possible).  Check e-mail and phone messages periodically (even if it’s every 30 minutes) but not as they come in!  This one habit alone can change your life.  I know because I made the change.

That leads me to an important word – HABIT.  Implementing changes like these listed above would mean creating new habits in your career and life.  Easier said than done.  Through my studies and work with engineers I have discovered some ways that you can implement powerful new habits like these into your life.  There isn’t enough time in this post to explain them, however I have recorded a special brief webinar for readers where I review the key steps to take to implement these or any career and life changing habits.  You can download this webinar right now on my Powerful Purpose Associates website.

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

July 19, 2012 at 9:45 am 3 comments

Civil Engineering & Local Politics: Should You Run For Office?

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of
  View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

It is that time of year again and the political landscape is heating up! A Google search shows that past/current Mayors of Omaha, NE,  City of East Orange, NJ and Norton, OH were/are civil engineers. Current Portland, OR Mayoral  candidate,  Steve Sung,  spent 32 years as a civil engineer for the city of Portland. With two candidates for California and Indiana congress, civil engineers are “taking to the streets” to lead policy formation.

Recently I asked civil engineer and past Mayor of Frederick, Maryland, Jeff Holtzinger, for his thoughts on civil engineers and local politics. Here is his comment:

“Civil Engineers are a good fit to solve the problems many cities are facing with aging infrastructure and infrastructure that has been outpaced by growth.  I also think the analytical thinking which is part of an engineering background gives engineers an advantage in problem solving.”

As our cities’ infrastructure decays, having a background in civil engineering seems to bring an added benefit to the political table. It would be interesting to see if cities with civil engineering trained Mayors have better infrastructure at the end of their term than similar cities.

What do you think?

May 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm 5 comments

Civil Engineering, Contracting 101 & Ferengi

By Rich Bedell
General Counsel, Greenhorne & O’Mara, Inc. and
Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Maryland University College, Graduate School of Management & Technology

Who is Montgomery Scott? How about Geordie La Forge, B’Elanna Tores, or Trip Tucker? Every engineer I know secretly wishes he or she could have their job. Getting close requires a lot of hard work, professional experience, dedication, and training. Formal training includes formal engineering programs that require specific engineering classes to successfully complete whichever engineering program chosen. Those programs also include various electives to help round out that young potential promising engineer. English literature, history of the western world, romantic arts, and even pottery making are known electives. Some of the more progressive schools offer Contracting 101. When I was in school, oh so long ago, I heard classmates complain that all they wanted to do was design and/or operate. The mechanics of contracting could easily be left to others. Oh how wrong they were.

By now you realize that I was talking about Star Trek, STNG, Voyager, and Enterprise. Each of them have had dealings with a race called the Ferengi. Ferengi have a mercantile obsession with profit and trade. Think about that. Without profit and trade our current society would fall into the dark ages and there would be no need for engineering or the sciences. Ferengi have what are commonly known as the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. There are hundreds of rules. Do a Google search for yourself and you will find that many of them actually apply.

For example consider the following rules:

#138 – Law makes everyone equal, but justice goes to the highest bidder. We all know that is true.

I couldn’t resist showing that one first but consider the top ten (10).

1) Once you have their money, never give it back.*

2) You can’t cheat an honest customer, but it never hurts to try.

3) Never buy anything for more than is absolutely necessary.*

4) Sex and profit are the two things that never last long enough.

5) If you can’t break a contract, bend it.

6) Never let family stand in the way of opportunity.*

7) Always keep your ears open.*

8) Keep count of your change.

9) Instinct plus opportunity equals profit.*

10) A dead customer can’t buy as much as a live one. Never kill a customer unless the profit you make off his death is larger than the profit you can make off his life.

Yes very funny, but consider Contracting 101 in relation to the above Top 10:

1. It is so important and difficult to collect from the client that you don’t want to do anything foolish that would require you to have to give it back. Think indemnification clauses in a contract where you indemnify for anything arising out of the performance of your services. Insurance doesn’t cover that. Insurance covers for the negligent performance of services.

2. How often have you found that the engineer is being cheated? If the engineer allows himself or herself to be cheated it is their own fault. Think about the fiduciary obligations owed.

3. Think competitive bidding and the contracting procedures associated with that.

4. Well that goes without saying.

5. How often have you found terms in a contract that allow termination for convenience?

6. How often have you been told to use a particular subconsultant only to find out that the subconsultant has some sort of relationship with the client?

By now I hope you get the idea…Some of the morals are questionable, but how true an application to Contracting 101!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

November 10, 2011 at 4:49 am Leave a comment

Automation of Surveying Creates Disruption and Opportunities

Special Guest Blogger
Houston Neal
Director of Marketing
Software Advice

Surveying is going through a technological renaissance. The increased adoption of machine guidance systems has renewed the importance of the surveying trade. This technology calls for a highly-trained workforce, and surveyors are the most qualified for this job. But to get in on the action, surveyors need to learn to use this technology and re-brand themselves.


GPS Machine Control Has Replaced Traditional Staking

Unless you’ve been sleeping behind the wheel, you’ve likely heard of GPS machine control. Also referred to as machine guidance or automated machine control, these systems are widely used by heavy construction companies. They speed up work, improve grade accuracy and improve the billing and scheduling accuracy of jobs. For example, by calculating the amount of material moved in a day, they can substantiate bills or keep employees on schedule.


The premise behind the technology is simple: just like using GPS in your car, a GPS machine control system tells excavators where to drive equipment. Additionally, these systems indicate the grade to excavate at. Depending on which version is being used, machine control systems either provide instruction on where to position the blade or automatically do it for drivers.


GPS machine control systems replace surveyors’ old jobs – especially staking. Traditionally, machine operators relied on stakes for both position and grade information. With machine control, this information is relayed in real-time to a unit on the driver’s dashboard.


So if staking is no longer necessary, are surveyors still necessary? Absolutely. Historical roles like boundary resolution and topographic survey work cannot be automated, so surveyors will always be needed for these.  But they are also the best people to take on more modern duties, such as managing the GPS machine control system.


A Picture of the Modern Surveyor

To stay relevant on the job site, surveyors need to take ownership of three roles: they need to calibrate the site, prepare data for the machine control system, and provide quality control and assurance of the finished grade.


Before any construction begins on a job site, surveyors are needed to set up the geodetic control. This is a reference system used to determine GPS coordinates. After the geodetic control points have been determined, the base station can be set and the site can be calibrated.


The next step is to create the 3D model that will be used in the machine control system. This is a huge opportunity for surveyors. Preparing data for the machine control system can be difficult and many contractors don’t want the extra liability. So they either outsource or hire exclusively for this task; some even dedicate entire teams to data preparation.


To own this process, surveyors must first learn to work with paper plans and CAD files. 3D data models are made with both types of plans. Often surveyors have to clean up drawings before building the 3D model. So it’s essential that they are familiar with the various file formats, to understand how to use them, and to be able to build the models afterwards. Finally, these files will need to be converted into a machine-ready format and uploaded into the machine control system.


“Someone has to have their fingers on manipulating the design into a format that goes into the computers on the machine guidance systems,” explains Tom Taylor, Chief of Surveys Coordination and New Technologies For Caltrans District 4 Surveys. “The best people to do this are surveyors. It’s a niche that surveyors are in the best position to provide this service for.”


Once the site has been calibrated and the data has been uploaded into the machine control system, construction can begin. But the surveyors role doesn’t end here. They will be needed during construction to monitor the machine control and to deliver quality control and assurance. No one is more qualified to provide quality assurance of grades than the surveyors.


Training and Branding: the Keys to Unlocking Job Opportunities

To take advantage of these job opportunities, surveyors need to learn to use this technology and “re-brand” themselves. As mentioned above, they will need to learn how to work with CAD files, how to develop 3D models for machine control and how to transfer data into the machine control systems.


“Maintain your expertise in the technology,” suggests John Watson, President of the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors. “Surveyors have always been at the forefront of technology and they need to stay that way. Always be learning. Always be training on new equipment.”


They should also become familiar with the major machine control packages on the market from companies such as Caterpillar, Leica, Topcon, Trimble and GeoPac, the software used by many branches of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Surveyors can get training directly from these companies, or one of the many partners that resell these systems.


In addition to getting training, surveyors need to brand themselves as machine control experts. Contractors, land engineers and surveyors are all vying for this title and no one has proved themselves in the role yet. Land surveyors are the most qualified for the job, so they should position themselves accordingly. And to support this claim, they need only point to the existing state laws that require surveyors to be part of the machine control setup process.


Salient Points

     Surveyors have an opportunity to work in more professional roles that require more thought than swinging a hammer or pounding a stake

     To win more jobs, surveyors need to take ownership of the following tasks:

     Site calibration

     Data preparation

     Quality assurance and control


Promote your GPS Machine Control Services

If you are a land surveyor and want to promote your own services, join our free directory. A profile includes your company contact information, description of services and a link back to your website. For more information, contact Houston Neal (


This article originally appeared on Software Advice, a free online resource for heavy construction software. You can view the original article at: Automation of Surveying Creates Disruption and Opportunities.

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

March 7, 2011 at 10:02 am 1 comment

Are You Delaying Taking the P.E. Test or Getting Another Certification….Why?

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Certified Professional Career Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Read The Career Development Blog – A Newly Created Support Forum for Civil Engineers

 This down economy is providing many of us with some down time due to lack of work.  Whether there is some down time at the office or you are currently unemployed.  What are you doing with that down time?  Why not spend it pursuing a license or certification that will add value to your credentials?

I know many engineers that have the work experience required to take the P.E. test, and have even passed part one of the exam (the F.E.), however they just won’t fill out the application and sit for the exam.  People make all kinds of excuses like, the application is difficult, no time to study, I don’t really need the license because my boss signs the plans, etc.  The same goes for other certifications like the LEED AP.  I hear people saying that the LEED exam takes too much memorization and they don’t have time for that.

In the coaching world, we call these excuses “blocks” because they are blocking you from achieving a goal.  There are two kinds of blocks, interior and exterior blocks.  Interior blocks are things like self-doubt and fear.  For example many people won’t sign up for the test for fear of failure.  They think about what would happen if they failed, what would people think, etc.  On the other hand, people may have fear of passing, yes that’s right passing.  They fear additional responsibilities or attention that they would rather avoid.  So how do you overcome these blocks without a coach?  You can do some self-coaching by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is holding me back from taking the next step to achieving this goal?
  • What can I do today to help me overcome that challenge?
  • What would my career look like if I passed the test? 
  • How would it affect my salary, my job standing, my family?
  • What will my career look like in 5 years if I pass the test?  If I don’t pass the test?

Write out the answers and be very descriptive and specific.  Then re-read the answers.  Many times seeing the value of the certification in these terms will help to eliminate these inner blocks.

Exterior blocks would be things like time and money.  To overcome exterior blocks you will most likely have to put an action plan together.  For example if you say you don’t have enough time to study, set up a detailed study schedule.  Maybe you study a half an hour each day before or after work or dedicate lunch a few times a week for studying.  If you establish a plan and stick with it, you will eliminate the exterior blocks.

I hope this article was helpful in moving you closer to your certifications, now go sign up for that test!

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November 18, 2009 at 7:16 am 8 comments

10 Ways Social Networking Can Impact Your Business & Career As A Civil Engineering Professional

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC, home of

Remember when musings of the Internet was just a fad?  Remember when the compass and slide rule were irreplaceable?  Remember when the Post Office was relevant?   Well, as it turns out, the  Internet is here to stay; if you have a compass and slide rule you just might get your 15 minutes of fame on PBS’ Antiques Road Show; and I can’t recall the last time I paid bill or sent a hand written letter via snail mail. Compass That said, consider yourself forewarned in regards to the utilization of Social Networking sites LinkedIn (44M+ users), Facebook (250M+users) and Twitter (4.5M+ users), among others – don’t be a naysayer, or you will be left in the dust.  Chances are, if you are reading this, you are familiar with, and hopefully active on, one or more of these technologies.  The key is – how can you make sure your company stays relevant by using them effectively?


1. Recruiting Professionals – Did you see the user statistics in the above paragraph? And those are only the three most popular sites among hundreds.  And guess what?  I suspect there are likely hundreds of thousands of members of the civil engineering community  who utilize these tools and share information. They have put themselves “out there.”   By joining these networks yourself and “working the network,” you will find many outstanding professional candidates, both passive and active.  This topic of recruiting on social networks is quite a robust topic and information can easily be found online, in books or through various seminars.  There are plenty of experts in this area so invest a little bit of time and money to catch you and your firm up to speed.

2. Industry News – Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin all have users and user Twitter Logo Headergroups who will be of interest to you.  You will find that ENR, ASCE, Society of Hispanic Engineers, SMPS, etc all have active users and groups on these sites where news bites and press releases are shared regularly. Also, by connecting with other friends and colleagues within the industry you will often read status updates or tweets in regards to local infrastructure news.

3. Relationship Building – Learn what your colleagues, clients, and potential clients are doing; learn their interests; follow their tweets; make logical and profound comments in response to theirs.  You  can get a real sense of their personality, interests, etc that will certainly assist during face-to-face marketing efforts.

4. Marketing/Branding – Develop a Facebook Fan/Group page with blog entries, promotions, press releases, wins, job postings, awards, charity events, etc.;  tweet these same items; develop a compelling corporate profile on LinkedIn and make sure your employees do as well.

5. Recruiting College Students-This is a “no brainer”.  If you want to reach out to the next generation of civil engineers you need to have a strong corporate brand on Facebook and MySpace for sure.  Join the Fan Page on Facebook!When visiting college campuses for recruiting trips have a couple laptops up and running at your table exhibiting these pages and invite them  to join your pages or groups on line.   Come prepared with business cards that provide the URL’s of your corporate social networking sites.  College students want to work for firms that understand and are avid  users of the web 2.0 technology that they utilize.  85% of college students are active on Facebook, 65% are active on MySpace.  Again, a “no brainer.”

6. Recruiting Boomerangs – How often have you had employees of your firm fly the coup, only to return because the grass was not greener on the other side?  By staying in touch with well respected ex-employees  by Linkedin Logoinviting them to join a group where they will be exposed to all the great news that is occurring with your firm, you are giving yourself a nice advantage above other firms when the time comes that he or she begins to look for a new job.  Firms like URS & Toll Brothers, among others, each have “Alumni” groups on Linkedin.

7. RFP’s – It’s only a matter of time before builders, agencies and architects will be tweeting RFP’s.

8. Professional Growth – By joining Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or by following specific associations or trainers or presenters on Twitter, you can remain well informed of all of the conferences, seminars, blogs, articles and publications being offered that you find relevant in your career.


10. Ignorance is Bliss.  Do not fall into this trap.  These networks are no longer the wave of the future, they are a mainstay.  As a civil engineering professional, by not jumping on board you will become a relic – and this label is not something you or your firm will want to be labeled as as the demand for talent begins to hit the upswing.

As you can see, I intentionally left a blank space after #9 – what might you suggest to fill in that blank?

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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

August 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm 10 comments

Engineering Ethics… Is There Ever A Question?

By Carol Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

Several studies conducted across the world suggest that the majority of engineering failures can be traced to a deficiency in engineering ethics. Specifically, someone was dishonest in their business dealings as they cut corners to save a dollar or keep a project on schedule. Perhaps they evaluated a situation that they were not competent to assess. In either case a failure occurs and an engineer’s ethics are called into question.  Is there ever a grey area when pondering ethics in engineering?

In 1995 thirty-five faculty from across the US and eight undergraduate fellows, gathered to develop engineering ethics resource material across engineering disciplines.  Numerical and ethical problems were developed with the support of the National Science Foundation.  These materials have made their way into many engineering ethics courses.  As I reviewed the civil engineering problems,  I, a non engineer, paused trying to think how to answer the ethical issues. For example, in one scenerio, a new female PE, is sent to a construction site to oversee the construction of her first sealed design (a parking garage).  After a day of heckling, whistling and additional lack of respect from the construction team on site, she returned to her civil engineering office and sought her colleagues/supervisors responses to issues she had confronted.  Getting their input she returned for day two.  Concrete is poured and a delay ensues. She confronts the construction supervisor and advised him that if a delay continues, then the poured concrete will need to be removed to avoid a structurally unsound joint.  The construction supervisor advises her that her inexperience and lack of construction knowledge leaves her with inadequate knowledge to make an accurate assessment in this case. He assures her that the joint will be sound and she is forced to make a decision to continue or place the project on delay. Under pressure she backs down. Guess what happens? Six months later a crack develops where the cold joint was and two years later an earthquake collapses that part of the garage severaly injuring people. The young PE and her company are found liable.

Some good ethical questions come out of this tragedy:  When do you let a new engineer go to a site alone?  There has to be a first time at some point. When she returned after the first day describing the adverse working conditions, should she had been sent back out alone? Should the contractor be held liable also? 

On the CivilEngineeringCentral Group on LINKEDIN, one member commented “if one has been in the engineering industry long enough, properly resolving ethical ambiguities are inevitable.” He so eloquently continues that when confronted he makes an “attempt to resolve any ethical dilemma through thoughtful deliberation first (never acting impulsively), then by calling my local PE Board for advice, who are exceptionally helpful, then finally as difficult as it might be, by confronting those who are central to the dilemma to offer an opportunity to arrive at an acceptable resolution prior to moving forward with reporting a transgression that might have crossed the line.”

The majority of us have an internal compass that moves when we are off center.  When something doesn’t feel right we know it in our gut.  We need to trust our instincts, talk with our mentors and our colleagues and make the good solid ethical choices.  As ASCE so plainly states:   Ethics is a cornerstone of civil engineering practice.

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May 11, 2009 at 8:21 pm 9 comments

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