Structural Failures and Engineering Ethics

TitleStructural Failures and Engineering Ethics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsRoddis, W
JournalJournal of Structural Engineering
Date Published1993/05/01
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number0733-9445
AbstractMajor engineering failures act as a catalyst for change in standards of practice and therefore create the opportunity for establishing better ethical practices for the profession. When examining ethics in engineering practice, it is useful to make the distinction between ethics in engineering and ethics of engineering. Ethics in engineering deals with the ethics of actions of individual engineers. Ethics of engineering deals with ethical issues that involve the role of engineers in industry, the ethics of the organizations in which they work and of professional engineering societies, and the ethical responsibilities of the profession. This paper presents case studies of two major structural disasters—the 1907 Quebec Bridge collapse and the 1981 Kansas City, Mo. Hyatt Regency walkway failure. The effect of each failure on engineering ethics is examined from the viewpoint of both ethics in engineering and of ethics of engineering. In response to failures, engineers need to change professional procedures and practices so that they reinforce, rather than place obstacles in the way of, moral action.