Introduction: contractors’ personnel. She wanted to be very

Introduction:   Mary Johnson, a newly graduated engineer after passing her PE exam, got an opportunity to work for Spire Engineering. Her first project being responsible as a lead engineer for the structural design engineer was for a construction of a car park. Spire Engineering was appointed by the owner of the project to monitor and inspect the construction process and Mary was given this task to her. Given that Mary was inexperience, like any fresh graduate engineer, she found it difficult to cope with the contractors’ personnel. She wanted to be very precise at her work as she learned during her studies. Mary, whom was visiting the site on daily basis, had many comments to make to the superintendent who works for the contractor. Because Mary was new at her post, the superintendent was not adhering to all of her comments. Mary also used to take the opinion of her more experienced colleagues at office about how to handle discussions with contractors. For the above stated project, the Engineer Mary first identified that the soil where the car park project was to be built was poor. She confirmed this through a detailed soil report produced by a geotechnical engineer who recommended continuous footings. Mary designs a reinforced concrete section in accordance to local standards. Further, the design was reviewed by another person at Spire Engineering and the design has been approved. Then the building process began and Mary was on site on daily basis observing the work. On a warm day, Mary observed that half of concrete was poured and the remaining supply of concrete stopped for long time; longer than the time that is required to make a strong concrete bond when the new batch of concrete is poured on top of the earlier batch. Mary raised her concern to the superintendent and asked him to remove the already poured concrete. The superintendent refused to go with Mary’s decision and have tried to convince her that the bonding will happen perfectly with no any doubt. The superintendent has simply forced his dominance on Mary because he is more experienced in his work and Mary is inexperience. At that time trucks carrying the new batch of concrete arrived to the site and Mary had to make a quick decision whether to accept pouring concrete on the first batch or to stick to her initial decision to remove the already poured concrete. Mary has finally decided to trust the experience of the superintendent rather than to go into harsh discussions with him and the other workers at the site. Approximately two years after construction, the car park was severely affected by an earthquake. Three persons permanently crippled and many cars were damaged. Investigation by third parties revealed that the car park broke at the part of cold joint. The contractor claimed that the responsibility lies on Spire Engineering through its agent Mary claiming that the superintendent was not a professional engineer to give such advises for the construction.        4  Mary’s preparation before visiting the site and her obligation to the employer:  Mary designed a parking structure based on her technical knowledge obtained from her studies. When Mary noticed that the soil where the project is carried out is poor, she requested an independent detailed soil report and recommendation from a geotechnical engineer. This is in accordance to ASCE Codes of Ethics – Canon 2; Engineers shall perform services only in areas of their competence “Engineers may accept an assignment requiring education or experience outside of their own fields of competence, provided their services are restricted to those phases of the project in which they are qualified. All other phases of such project shall be performed by qualified associates, consultants, or employees” Mary has then designed a reinforced concrete section according to ACI standards. After that, another Engineer at Spire Engineering reviewed Mary’s work before she signs and seal her stamp on the plan. This is again in accordance to ASCE Codes of Ethics – Canon 2; “Engineers shall not affix their signatures or seals to any engineering plan or document dealing with subject matter in which they lack competence by virtue of education or experience or to any such plan or document not reviewed or prepared under their supervisory control”. The only point that may be taken against Mary is that she didn’t prepare herself psychologically and mentally to face the contractor’s workers on site knowing that women usually are treated with different attitudes by male workers.  Mary’s actions on the site the second day:  On site, Mary was very critical about the contracting process and made her comments clear to the superintendent but the latter was not adhering to all of Mary’s comments and concerns. Mary seem has lost her dominance from the first day in front of the superintendent and workers on site. She had to act stronger and more dominant deriving this from her responsibility as the lead engineer for the project. When Mary raised her concerns that concrete will not bond due to long time gap between two batches of concrete, she couldn’t win the argument. Although Mary made her 5  argument based on her technical knowledge backed by her studies, she cracked down when the superintendent and the workers protested her initial request to remove all poured concrete for that day. When the loads of new concrete arrived on site, she could not take that decisive decision to refuse pouring the new batch concrete. But she decided to take the superintendent’s words hoping that nothing will go wrong. The first mistake she did could have been rectified by reporting the incident to her employer or authorities at a later stage albeit with more responsibility on her for late reaction but she opted to keep silent. This is a deviation from ASCE Codes of Ethics – Canon 1; Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and shall strive to comply with the principles of sustainable development in the performance of their professional duties “Engineers whose professional judgment is overruled under circumstances where the safety, health and welfare of the public are endangered, or the principles of sustainable development ignored, shall inform their clients or employers of the possible consequences” and “Engineers who have knowledge or reason to believe that another person or firm may be in violation of any of the provisions of Canon 1 shall present such information to the proper authority in writing and shall cooperate with the proper authority in furnishing such further information or assistance as may be required”.  Mary’s boss actions during the construction:  ASCE Codes of Ethics – Canon 2; Engineers shall perform services only in areas of their competence “Engineers shall undertake to perform engineering assignments only when qualified by education or experience in the technical field of engineering involved” allows engineers with qualified education and without experience like Mary to lead projects. Hence, Mary’s boss did not breached codes of ethics. However, Mary’s boss should have been more alert to what is expected to happen for a new inexperienced engineer on site. In other words, Mary’s boss should have let experienced engineers join Mary on site for the first few days and observe her performance. This is a bad management from the boss.  6  The boss action to assign an experience engineer:  The action of Mary’s boss is correct. But Alex have breached ASCE Codes of Ethics – Canon 7; “Engineers shall continue their professional development throughout their careers, and shall provide opportunities for the professional development of those engineers under their supervision”. Alex acted selfish and carried out the work without any consideration to the actual purpose of him accompanying Mary. The real purpose the boss aimed for is to make sure that Mary is being properly guided and assisted by Alex without jeopardizing the quality of the work. Mary should have defended her case and asked Alex in a polite way to involve her in the process rather than ignoring her. This is another evidence that Mary is short of having solid personality.  Expert witness:  Spire Engineering and its employees including Mary and her boss are in a bad position without any doubt. Playing supervisory role is all about having control on the project and document all violations and report them to the concerned authorities. Mary was not fit for this responsibility. Her boss is also responsible for this mistake because it is his role to make sure he appoints the right person(s) for the project. The responsibility is on Spire Engineering. The contractor is not legally responsible although social responsibility is on their shoulders too. In legal litigations, social responsibilities have very little weight against legal responsibilities.        7  Conclusion:  This case study can be summarized in few sentences. Each party wanted to apply his/her priority action. The superintendent did not wanted to break the poured concrete for two main reasons; avoid losses of his employer on wasted concrete and to avoid redoing the job once again. His priority was not the safety of the structure but the profits of his employer. Although Mary had nothing to lose by insisting on her decision to break and remove the poured concrete, she could win the argument with the superintendent. This mistake which happened in a blink of an eye led to a disaster after two years. The case study is important to be seriously considered and remembered by graduated engineers. Applying code of ethics in engineering (or any profession) is vital for employees. Applying good principles at workplace is for the benefit of the society. If each member in the society apply written or non-written code of ethics, our lives will be much better. The well-being and prosperity of any nation only happen when the society is well managed by principles.  


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