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On the subject of ethics

By Chemical Engineering |

Thank you for writing this article [Engineering Ethics Survey: What’s Your Opinion?, Chem. Eng. October 2015, pp. 50–55]. Many of us, as we proceed through our careers, are faced with some difficult choices, which can have quite an impact on our future. An ethical misstep can ruin a career and hurt any[one] dependent on an [that] individual. I am convinced that many of the younger [engineers] have no idea of the pressures that can fall upon them.

I liked your selection of cases, especially #7, as so often internal organization relationships really amplify the pressure on decisions.

Your fine article brought back memories of many discussions in the past with my fellow members of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). For a lot of years, I operated the ASHRAE Think Tank, an email group of about a hundred officers, ex-officers, directors and ex-directors of the society. We would discuss subjects that might directly or indirectly impact the membership. One of these was ethics.

I brought up the subject for discussion as I was alarmed at the membership of some technical committees and standards committees with obvious conflicts of interest. This reminded me of the ASME versus Hydrolevel case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and decided in favor of Hydrolevel. You may find it interesting to search for this on the Internet. There are many references.

I realize this case concerned a non-profit organization’s matter, but the fact that it went to the Supreme Court and that ASME lost certainly got the attention of the ASHRAE folks. Unfortunately, much time has passed; the problem is as bad or worse today.

I hope that your article is picked up by others and that your magazine will periodically run articles on ethics. By the way, you might do a search on “Ethicana.” Perhaps you know about it.

Thanks, again, for the article.


Editor’s note: The survey on ethics from our October 2015 issue is still open. If you would like to participate, you can find a link to the survey on our website at the end of the article at www.chemengonline.com/engineering-ethics-survey-whats-opinion/


Postscripts, corrections

December 2015, “New catalyst removes cyanide from wastewater.” On p. 8, the name Raveendran Shiju is missing the “n” at the end of Raveendran.

October 2015, “Pipe Insulation: Finding the Optimal Thickness.” On p. 62, a sign in Equation (6) was inadvertenly changed from plus to minus. Because this mistake was not part of the derivation, the error does not propagate through, so does not change anything that follows. The correct form of Equation (6) should contain the terms T 2+460 and T a+460.
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