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Ethical Responsibilities in Engineering Homework

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Ethical Responsibilities in Engineering Homework
 BME/ISE 4910                                               ENGINEERING DESIGN I                                                 FALL 2017

Writing Assignment II:

Ethical Responsibilities in Engineering, Part I

Due: Thursday, 10/05/17 at 3:30 PM

Submit:     1) Summary: Electronic Copy to Pilot Dropbox, Hardcopy in Class

2) Discussion: Discussion post(s) on Pilot Discussion board

As discussed in class, one aspect of professional engineering is an obligation to adhere to the highest principles of ethical conduct. In this exercise, you will examine one case study related to ethics in engineering, and provide a written analysis of the case and your opinions about factors that contributed to the magnitude of the resultant issues.

Assignment: Based upon established codes of engineering ethics, assess the Flint Water Crisis in light of an engineer’s responsibility for public safety, cost-versus-benefit studies when public safety is involved, and the issues of informing management and the public of possible safety hazards. What is an engineer’s responsibility to his/her employer? When is ‘whistleblowing’ acceptable or even imperative? How can politics motivate governmental and individual behavior that may be unethical? Specific to the Flint case, what factors led to this health crisis? Who bears responsibility for the events that took place? Do you feel that a similar situation could take place in the future? If not, why? If so, how could it be prevented?

Case Study Resources: Some resources to get you started are listed below. You should seek out additional sources of information. Be sure to properly cite sources.

  • Private blog with case overview


  • Timeline of events, from NPR website


  • Flint Water Advisory Task Force Final Report, March 2016


  • Secor Pennington D., When Things Went Wrong with the Water: A Public Health Catastrophe (PowerPoint presentation)
  • American Scientist post: Flint Water Crisis Yields Hard Lessons in Science and Ethics (interview with Marc Edwards)


  • Bellinger, DC, Lead contamination in Flint – an abject failure to protect public health, New England Journal of Medicine 374(12), 2016, 1101-1103.


  • Clark K., The Value of Water: The Flint Water Crisis as a Devaluation of Natural Resources, not a Matter of Racial Justice, Environmental Justice, Aug 2016, 99-102.


  • Casey Sadler R. Highsmith AR, Rethinking Tiebout: The Contribution of Political Fragmentation and Racial/Economic Segregation to the Flint Water Crisis, Environmental Justice, Oct 2016, 143-151.

Assignment Requirements:


  1. Prepare a 500 word (± 20 words) assessment of the Flint Water Crisis from an engineering ethics perspective. Convey your individual viewpoint on the factors that led to the case outcomes.


  1. Start or comment on a discussion thread that supports or rejects a perspective or action related to the Flint Water Crisis. Posts should be at least several sentences in length. You may contribute to as many discussion threads as you choose. You must comment on an existing thread before initiating your own thread.


Grading: The Writing Assignment II grade breakdown is


Part I Summary: 35%


Part I Discussion Post: 30%


Part II Summary: 35%


Summary evaluation will be based on:


Content – 60%


Ideas, originality of thought, demonstrated understanding of engineering ethics, demonstrated understanding of factors that impact decision-making


Assignment Completeness and Organization – 20%


Well-organized presentation of ideas, clear point of view provided, supporting information shared/cited, digestion of topic, adherence to word count requirement


Fluency and Professionalism – 20%


Professional writing style, appropriate use of English language, correct grammar, no typos or formatting/spelling errors


Discussion Post evaluation will be based on:


Content: thoughtful, original viewpoint on existing post – 30%


Motivation: began a thread with a significantly new thought that led to discussion – +10%


Relevancy: demonstrated understanding of engineering ethics – 30%


Tone: communicated respectfully in all posts – 30%


Writing Mechanics: Used proper sentence structure, grammar, professional style – 10%


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