(Ethical Engineering/Fair Trade) An engineer is thinking about placing a bid on a contract for a job for which, in his job at another firm, he prepared the plans.
Bernard is a principal in a consulting engineering firm. He is also a principal owner in a construction contracting firm. In his role as consultant, Bernard prepared plans for the design of a roof structure for a wastewater treatment facility. The municipality hired a seperate firm to adminster the bidding and construction using the plans prepared by Bernard. In his role as owner of the construction contracting firm, Bernard thinks that bidding on the construction is a great opportunity to arrange for new employment.
Should Bernard bid for the project assignment? Why or why not? Does Bernard have an unfair advantage over firms having designed the project on which he wants to bid?
--adapted from NSPE Cases No. 98-1
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 ethical decision-making framework developed by Dr. Michael Davis of the Illinois Institute of Technology is useful in guiding discussions around case studies and other ethics courses and workshop activities.
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.