Ethics play a vital role in engineering, from both public and private perspectives. That’s why, as a Professional Engineer (PE), one of the required 15 hours of annual professional development hours (PDH) must be dedicated to ethics. BHB was proud to partner with the City of Fort Worth again this year to host the Professional Conduct and Ethics Seminar, affording PEs from local firms and municipalities the opportunity to examine circumstances and scenarios from the perspective of consultants, civil servants, and city officials.
This year’s panel-based event, led by Konstantine Bakintas, BHB President, featured special guests from the City of Fort Worth: Cary Moon, City Councilman; William Johnson, Transportation and Public Works Director; and Christopher Harder, Water Director. BHB Founder Bill Baird and COO Ken Randall also participated. Panelists were selected to showcase a diverse set of experiences —”in this way, we are able to highlight differences in their perspectives. Specifically, how an engineering ethical dilemma may be viewed as a business proposition and discussed with the owner to assure the best possible outcome,” says Bakintas. Harder adds, “there’s value if you are a public sector engineer in being knowledgeable regarding ethical situations affecting a private sector engineer, and vice-versa.”
Throughout the three scenarios discussed, a common thread appeared: the engineers felt secure in their interpretation of the facts until a panelist would suggest a business perspective that introduced potential gray area. Discussion amongst the panel helped to establish a more holistic view of each scenario and possible implications in order to establish the most ethical course of action. “You may have ethical intentions, but if they are perceived to be otherwise, then that perception needs to be corrected. This may involve putting forth extra effort to communicate the considerations, reasoning, and justification with those affected by your decisions in order to correct misperceptions,” says Harder.
“Engineers must protect the health, safety, property, and welfare of the public,” says Bakintas, “but must also work collaboratively with the owner and design team, and consider the business proposition.” Attendees were encouraged to reference the State of Texas Occupations Code as well as consult the Texas Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors as needed when presented with ethical dilemmas in their work.