Five people perished in a horrible accident that was caught on film in 1982. It was a needless tragedy that highlights some of the ethical dilemmas faced by today’s professional engineers.
In this case study based on an actual event, a six ton FM antenna was being placed on a new 1800-foot tower. As the last section was being raised, the supporting bolts failed causing the section to fall, sheering guy wires and bringing down the entire tower structure. The local TV station had a cameraman on scene and the news film has allowed engineers and scientists to closely examine the event.
As all too often happens, there is another part to this story: The behind-the-scenes engineering decisions that were made by the parties involved. How did these decisions lead to the accident? And how, by exercising better ethical judgment, could these deaths have been prevented?
This case raises serious ethical issues involving social responsibility versus legal liability and negligence. The reader is urged to read the facts and then review the ethical and moral decisions that were made and to examine their own possible reactions had they been involved in this event.
Does being legally right mean that you are ethically right? And how can we as engineers make ethically correct decisions?
To receive PDH credit, the reader must pass a multiple choice quiz of ten (10) questions.
Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained
This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:
- Review the ethical and moral considerations and weigh the legal considerations of the case
- Determine the actual stress calculation for the U-bolt connection and compare to the erroneous calculations used
- Explore possible choices for this situation that would have been more ethically appropriate
- Review the positions of both parties and explore the thought processes of the decisions made
- View photos of the accident side and damage caused to the tower and antenna
Click on the following link to the PDF document to review the course material before taking the quiz for credit.
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