This is an open-ended scenario for discussion based on a case from the NSPE Board of Ethical Review. It questions the ethics of offering advertising or gifts to potential and current clients.
Austin is a principal of a consulting engineering firm. He wants to purchase and distribute gifts to clients and prospective clients. After having researched many products, Austin proposes two possibilities. One suggestion is to purchase and distribute wall calendars in the fall of the year. On each page of the calendar will be printed: Austin & Associates, Consulting Engineers, 1234 Main Street, Capital City, Ohio, Phone 123-456-7890. The other suggestion is to purchase and distribute pencils to present to potential clients. On each pencil will be inscribed: Austin & Associates Research & Development Company, Capital City, Ohio.
How would you respond to his suggestions?
--adapted from NSPE Cases No. 78-8
NSPE Code of Ethics An earlier version may have been used in this case.
Return to Professional Ethics in Engineering Practice: Discussion Cases Based on NSPE BER Cases
This bibliography includes examples of different ways instructors have used case studies to introduce ethical topics to their students and resources for finding cases and incorporating them into the classroom.
In this essay, Dr. Whitbeck outlines an 'agent-centered' approach to learning ethics. The central aim is to prepare students to act wisely and responsibly when faced with moral problems. She provides a number of examples and cases with descriptions of questions and directions for promoting student participation and stimulating thought and discussion.