You need to refer to the codes of ethics below:
National Society for Professional Engineers (NSPE) Code of Ethics: http://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Code of Ethics: http://www.ieee.org/about/corporate/governance/p7-8.html
Clemson University is located in South Carolina. Each state has its own laws regarding the practice of engineering, but they are relatively similar. Here is the link to the South Carolina Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors Law and Regulations website: https://llr.sc.gov/eng/laws.aspx for general information and links to various documents. The statute for engineers is at this link: https://llr.sc.gov/eng/PDF_Files/Engineers&SurveyorsStatute2018.pdf
Please consider the following scenarios, and answer the following questions with explanations of your thought process, referring to the appropriate code or law as applicable. It is expected that your answers will be at least one paragraph for each situation.
You are a licensed professional engineering (PE) and you are one of the owners of a small engineering design firm. Your firm has taken a job for the design of the power system in a small office building.
The building is served with 208V, three-phase, 60 Hz power from the utility and the service is 100kVA. The design involves sizing the conductors, the circuit breakers, and layout of the electrical service for the building. This is a relatively small project, and the design is fairly simple.
You have done this type of job many times, and have many examples of similar jobs to draw from so you don’t have to start from a “clean sheet of paper.” You have other more complex designs that you are working on and looming deadlines, and this small project is not your top priority but the deadline for completion is nearing. You have a close friend who is a recent electrical engineering graduate and you decide that this would be a good experience for your friend to undertake.
He is not an employee of your company, and you would pay him out of your pocket for his time on the design. He will submit the design to you, you pay him for his time, and then you seal the design drawings and present them to your client.
What do you think about this situation?
Do you think there was an ethical issue involved in what you did? Why or why not? Under what circumstances and conditions do you think it is ethical to present your friend’s work to the client?
Should you disclose that someone else did the work to the client?
You are working as a product development engineer for a company that is one of the leaders in air compressors driven by electric motors. One of your company’s competitors has recently developed a new product called a “Rotaxal” which uses a new motor design that increases energy efficiency by 25%.
Your company is interested in developing a competing product using a similar motor design, but does not want to be accused of infringing patents. You engage your team of engineers and a patent attorney to assist with an evaluation of the Rotaxal. Your company wants to keep the evaluation of the Rotaxal a secret until you have decided if you can design a competing product and it is ready for the market.
As part of your evaluation of the competition, your company purchases several samples of the Rotaxal from Amazon and they are shipped to your home to minimize the possibility that the competitor would discover that your company is evaluating the Rotaxal. You take the product samples to your company’s lab and evaluate them carefully.
During this evaluation, you discover a serious flaw in the design of the Rotaxal that has the potential of seriously shocking a user under certain abnormal conditions. You evaluate several samples of the product, and each of them has this issue. The flaw is not obvious and would likely not be discovered unless someone was looking for the flaw.
But the flaw represents a serious hazard to a user of the Rotaxal under these abnormal conditions. However, the likelihood of someone using the Rotaxal in this condition is low. But, it is standard design practice to ensure a design is immune to this problem.
What do you do now with this discovery?
Do you have an ethical duty to report this flaw? Do you tell your competitor about this issue? This would divulge that your company is evaluating the Rotaxal and may be developing a competing product. Since the likelihood of someone using the Rotaxal in the hazardous situation is low, then do you say nothing?
Suppose you decide to report the issue through a third party so that you can maintain anonymity.
After discussing this with your supervisor, he/she directs you not to divulge the information since your company is the only one that could have discovered this flaw. What would you do now?