Engineers and Scientists Behaving Well

This section gives detailed stories of scientists and engineers in difficult circumstances who have demonstrated wisdom that enabled them to fulfill their responsibilities as scientists and engineers. Their actions provide guidance for others who want to do the right thing in circumstances that are similarly difficult. Many of our stories of moral leadership are illustrated with graphics.

In contrast to accident cases, these exemplars are intended to give neophyte engineers examples of engineers and scientists responding well to situations, so they have positive examples not only of actions, but to the extent possible, reasoning behind those actions. By including both cases in which others also acted well in response to the engineer's actions, and cases in which they did not, we intend to avoid the fallacy of judging every effort by its outcome.

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  • Added07/06/2006


    During the seventeen years she worked in the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Rachel Carson learned about the problems of pesticides. Undaunted by the chemical companies' hostility and by the public's high enthusiasm for pesticides, she wrote a book called Silent Spring, which caused a major shift in public consciousness about the environment. Told in 7 sections and includes supplementary materials and pictures.
    Year 2006
  • Added07/05/2006


    This page presents the case of whistleblower Inez Austin as an example of someone who, even in the face of overwhelming adversity, followed her ethical convictions and refused to sanction a procedure she believed to be unsafe. The information in this page is drawn from extensive personal communications with Inez Austin.
    Year 2005
  • Added06/23/2006


    William LeMessurier served as design and construction consultant on the innovative Citicorp headquarters tower, which was completed in 1977 in New York. The next year, after a college student studying the tower design had called him to point out a possible deficiency, LeMessurier discovered that the building was indeed structurally deficient. LeMessurier faced a complex and difficult problem of professional responsibility in which he had to alert a broad group of people to the structural deficiency and enlist their cooperation in repairing the deficiency before a hurricane brought the building down.
  • Added06/06/2006


    Fred Cuny was a disaster relief specialist who used his training in engineering to do humanitarian work. He worked in countries such as Biafra, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Iraq, Somalia, and Bosnia. In March 1995, he disappeared in Chechnya and was never found. The story of his work is told in 8 sections and includes supplementary materials and pictures.
    Year 2006
  • Added05/19/2006


    Roger Boisjoly discusses in seven sections his attempts to avert the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Boisjoly has spent his entire career making well-informed decisions based on his understanding of and belief in a professional engineer's rights and responsibilities. For his honesty and integrity leading up to and directly following the shuttle disaster, he was awarded the Prize for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Includes a Quicktime Movie of the disaster and other supporting materials.
    Year 1987
Cite this page: "Engineers and Scientists Behaving Well" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 6/9/2010 OEC Accessed: Friday, July 12, 2019 <>