In March we had our annual ethics seminar, courtesy of the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. Mr. George Hartman joined us once again to 1) discuss the history of licensing in Texas, 2) illustrate challenging ethical scenarios, and 3) update us about state-level current events.
Looking back at history, did you know for instance that the Texas Board of Professional Engineers implemented licensing requirements in 1937. Unfortunately, the impetus was a tragedy. The New London School had a gas line in their basement which was improperly tapped into, leading to a buildup of gas. When the inevitable explosion happened, the building rose 3 feet and then imploded. Had the ignorant person who tapped into the gas line been properly educated and licensed, its possible the many teachers and schoolchildren who lost their lives would have survived. Texans realized that competent professionals needed to be our future designers. Since then, Texas has licensed over 129,000 engineers.
Considering ethical scenarios, it’s good to keep in mind the consequences of our engineering decisions. We know it’s wrong to engineer something incorrectly. But, how do we approach providing engineering services that meet project specifications and minimum design code but for which we know there are better approaches if only the client were educated about them. Would that take too much time? Would it take money out of our pockets? Perhaps these are not precisely ethical questions. But with advances in technology and our ability to better model and understand the performance of structures, sometimes simply providing a “good design” can hover close to the gray area of unethical….I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on this!
Come to our next meeting on April 18th and earn a PDH, expand your knowledge and network with your Gulf Coast colleagues at the HESS club. Mr. Dean Rutila, P.E. will present case studies on building enclosure design and the interaction with the structural system. We hope to see you there!
[By Emily McCarthy standing in for Joshua White]