Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science



Date: Thursday 18 April 2002 Instructor: G R Peters

Time: 0900 - 1130


Books, notes and other written aids permitted.

Answer any 5 questions

1. (11 marks) The first video we saw in the course was entitled "Credit Where it is Due." This title referred to people known as "dissenters." Who were they (give some examples) and what are the contributions that they should be given credit for?

2. (11 marks) Isambard Kingdom Brunel was no doubt a famous engineer. Yet he was not successful in everything he did. From what you have learned about his life and work, do you think his fame was deserved? Justify your argument, using examples, contribution to society, engineering ethics, or any other measures you think apply.

3. (a) (6 marks) Postman opens his book with the legend of "The Judgement of Thamus." What point is he making in using this illustration to develop his position about a technological society?

(b) (5 marks) Postman quotes another writer who identified the Industrial Revolution as "that fruit of Baconian Science". What is meant by that phrase in this context?

4. (11 marks) Postman devotes a chapter to what he calls "Scientism", and calls it Technopoly's "grand illusion". Summarize what you understand by Postmanís Scientism, and explain why he calls it the "grand illusion".

5. (11 marks) "I only work here" is a commonly used phrase that implies that one is not personally accountable for the company rules since one does not make them. It also suggests that one wishes to restrict oneís area of responsibility within tight bounds as defined by those rules. In the light of our Code of Ethics, and the discussion of engineers as "responsible experimenters" in Schinzinger and Martin, respond to the potential implications of this phrase and the attitude represented by it when exhibited by engineers.

6. (11 marks) The XYZ corporation is informed by the Department of the Environment that they have 60 days to apply for a permit to continue to discharge industrial wastes into a river, and this discharge must meet a given environmental standard.  In order to make its case that they will meet the required environmental standard, XYZ hires John Doe, P. Eng. to perform consulting engineering services, and submit a detailed report. After John completes the study, but before he writes the report, he comes to the conclusion that XYZís plant does not meet the required discharge standard, and he verbally informs XYZ Corporation of the result. XYZ then terminates the contract with John Doe, with full payment for the services performed, and instructs him not to write a report for XYZ Corp. Some time later, the Department of the Environment calls a public hearing and XYZ Corporation presents data to support its claim that the plant meets the environmental standard.

Question: Does John Doe P. Eng. have an ethical requirement to report his findings to the Department of the Environment when he learns of the hearing? Give a reasoned judgement. (APEGN Code of Ethics attached.)