Academic Integrity and Ethics in Science & Engineering
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Karman n ghia school of aerospace systems university of cincinnati cincinnati ohio

Academic Integrity and Ethics in Science & Engineering -NSF AY-REU Fall 2012 *

Karman N. Ghia

School of Aerospace Systems

  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Ohio

October 5, 2012


*Author acknowledges assistance of Santosh Dungi, Michael Cline and Seezan Prajapati

in preparing the PowerPoint presentation

Academic integrity and ethics in science engineering nsf ay reu fall 2012

Academic Integrity and Ethics in Science & Engineering -NSF AY-REU Fall 2012

Concepts and Cases


Definition “To take ideas or writings from another and pass them off as one’s own.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2nd College Ed., Collins)

  • Plagiarize:

  • Plagiarism: To plagiarize means to copy something that someone else wrote or said without telling where you found it.

  • Plagiarism is not good professional behavior:

    Don’t do it!

How do you know if you are plagiarizing
How do you know if you are plagiarizing?

  • “You are plagiarizing if you copy from published sources without adequate documentation.”

    What are the penalties for plagiarism?

  • Failing grade for a paper or a course

  • Retraction of a journal paper

  • Retraction of a degree

  • Expulsion from the University

How do you a void plagiarism
How do you Avoid Plagiarism?

You must give creditwhenever:

  • You use another person's idea, opinion, or

  • You use any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings--any pieces of information--that are not common knowledge.

  • You use quotations of another person's actual spoken or written words.

  • You paraphrase another person's spoken or written words.

    • (To paraphrase means to express another person's spoken or written words in your own words).

How do you give credit use r eferences
How do you give credit? - Use References!

Someone else’s words:

  • “This system remains linear at all frequencies.”

  • It can be shown that this system remains linear at all frequencies.7 7. P. Das, IEEE Transactions on…

  • Das7 showed that this system remains linear at all frequencies.7. P. Das, IEEE Transactions on…

    When don’t you have to Give Credit? - When Something is General Knowledge

Code of ethics for engineers
Code of Ethics for Engineers


  • Engineering is an important and learned profession. As members of this profession, engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

  • Engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all people. Accordingly, the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.

  • Engineers must perform under a standard of professional behavior that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical conduct.

Rules of practice
Rules of Practice

  • Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.

  • Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence.

  • Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.

  • Engineers shall act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.

  • Engineers shall avoid deceptive acts

Professional obligations
Professional Obligations

  • Engineers shall be guided in all their relations by the highest standards of honesty and integrity

  • Engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest

  • Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives the public.

  • Engineers shall not disclose, without consent, confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer, or public body on which they serve.

  • Engineers shall not be influenced in their professional duties by conflicting interests

  • Engineers shall not attempt to obtain employment or advancement or professional engagements by untruthfully criticizing other engineers, or by other improper or questionable methods

  • Engineers shall not attempt to injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice, or employment of other engineers. Engineers who believe others are guilty of unethical or illegal practice shall present such information to the proper authority for action.

  • Engineers shall accept personal responsibility for their professional activities, provided, however, that engineers may seek indemnification for services arising out of their practice for other than gross negligence, where the engineer’s interests cannot otherwise be protected

  • Engineers shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due, and will recognize the proprietary interests of others

Social contract responsible engineering
Social Contract & Responsible Engineering

  • Self-Regulation

    -Create and enforce high standards


    • You are the Professional

  • Minimal legal standards

    • Acknowledgement of fault

    • Above and beyond call of duty

  • Service

    -Promoting well being of general public

    -Ensuring competence of professionals

  • What we do matters a great deal

    • Accidents are costly

    • Public health at stake

    • Environmental impact

Moral thinking and tests for moral problem solving
Moral Thinking andTests for Moral Problem Solving

  • Ethical Sensitivities

  • Questions

  • Problems

  • Analysis

  • Rights

    • Freedom, well-being, moral, legal, laws

    • Just because it is legal, is it right?

  • Experience – education, work, relationships

  • Personal and Common Morality – religion, family

  • Prudence

    - Is it justified because it is in our own best interest?

  • Cost / Benefit

    • Is the most economic decision the most moral?

  • Golden Rule

    • “do unto others…”

Problem solving honoring engineering ethics
Problem Solving - HonoringEngineering Ethics

State the Problem

Get the Facts

Defend Viewpoints

  • Honesty, Truth, Reliability

  • Accurate and complete technical

  • knowledge Unreliable judgment worse

  • than none at all

  • Lying

  • Deliberate deception

  • Failure to seek truth

Formulate Opinion

Qualify Recommendation

State the problem and get the facts
State the Problem andGet the Facts

  • Clearly define exact nature of ethical problem or dilemma

  • Need to be clear so that we can anticipate the kind of solution that is required

  • Want to provide an answer that is relevant to the interests at stake.

  • Want to make an informed decision.

    • Must possess and understand the relevant facts

  • Must make clear any interpretations of factual matters or the values than underlie conflicting moral viewpoints.

Identify defend competing moral viewpoints
Identify & Defend Competing Moral Viewpoints

  • Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of competing moral viewpoints

  • Begin by identifying what we believe to be the most compelling reason for the course of action

  • We must be able to justify the course of action

Formulate an opinion and qualify recommendation
Formulate an Opinion and Qualify Recommendation

  • As engineers we do not have the luxury of postponing questions or leaving a question unresolved

  • Decide which of the compelling viewpoints is the most compelling

  • The committee approach (voting) is advantageous because the decision is representative of the general public

  • Committees must qualify the recommendations they make by describing the level of consensus that was received

  • Should include the voting distribution and any dissenting opinions

Case studies
Case Studies

  • Engineering ethics is often times best explained through the use of case studies.

  • Case studies allow examples of good and bad decision making in a real world context.

Credit for engineering work
Credit for Engineering Work

  • Introduction:

  • Engineer A is designing a bridge as part of an elevated highway system

  • Engineer B is asked to help with the design and helps design critical elements of the bridge.

  • Engineer A enters the bridge design into a national competition and wins, but fails to credit Engineer B for her part in the design.

  • Question:

  • Was it ethical for Engineer A to fail to give credit to Engineer B for her part in the design?

Credit for engineering work1
Credit for Engineering Work

Discussion –

  • “Basic to engineering ethics is the responsibility to issue statements in an objective and truthful manner (Section 1.3.) The concept of providing credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due is fundamental to that responsibility.

  • This is particularly the case where an engineer retains the services of other individuals because the engineer may not possess the education, experience and expertise to perform the required services for a client.”

  • “While each individual case must be understood based upon the particular facts involved, we believe that Engineer A had an ethical obligation to his client, to Engineer B as well as to the public to take reasonable steps to identify all parties responsible for the design of the bridge.”

    Conclusion –

    “It was unethical for Engineer A to fail to give credit to Engineer B for her part in the design.”

Engineering disaster the ford pinto case
Engineering DisasterThe Ford Pinto Case

  • “not to weigh an ounce over 2000 pounds and not to cost a cent over $2000.”

    • Lee Iacocca

  • Crash tests reveal defect in gas tank

  • Rear-end collisions over 25 mph resulted in rupture and explosion

Cost benefit analysis the ford pinto scandal
Cost Benefit Analysis – The Ford Pinto Scandal

  • Safety problems

    • Rear end shunt -> rupture of fuel tank -> fire

    • Spotted during design and manufacture

    • $11 at manufacturing stage would have fixed problems

    • Suggestion Avoided on strength of ‘Cost-Benefit’ analysis

Ford pinto design methodology
Ford Pinto Design Methodology

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis for Unsafe Design

    • According to Ford, the unsafe design would cause:

      • 180 Burn Deaths

      • 180 Serious burn injuries

      • 2100 Burned vehicles per year

    • Ford assumed it would have to pay

      • $200,000 per death

      • $67,000 per injury

      • $700 per vehicle

Ford pinto design cost analysis the ford pinto scandal
Ford Pinto Design Cost Analysis - The Ford Pinto Scandal

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis of Dangerous Design

    • An alteration would cost $11.00 per car.

      Cost to make safer cars

      12.5 million cars x $11 = $137 million

    • Benefits

      180 Deaths, 180 Injured, 2100 Burned Cars = $ 49.5 million

  • 1971-1978

    • Up to 500 deaths caused by Pinto fires

    • Death to serious injury ratio actually much higher (1:10)

    • 95% would have survived with a safer design

    • $5 alternative was also actually available

Ford pays and pinto debate
Ford Pays and Pinto Debate

  • Lawsuits and personal injury cases total over $450 million even as Ford continues to argue the car was safe if driven correctly

  • Over 500 documented deaths related to rear-end collisions in Pintos

  • Company nearly folds after lawsuits and lack of trust in Ford products

  • Who is to blame for Ford’s design?

    • Chairman, Engineer, Designer

  • Was the decision making unethical?

  • Is cost-benefit analysis a reliable ethics technique?

Deepwater horizon oil spill gulf of mexico

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)

Before Accident

After Accident

Accident on April 2010

Deepwater horizon oil spill gulf of mexico1

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)

Owned by Transocean

Was under lease to BP from March 2008 to September 2013

Located in the Mississippi Canon Block 252

Leakage of high pressure of methane gas explosion let to fire on the Oil Rig on April 20th , 2010

After burning for 36 hours approximately, Deepwater Horizon Rig sank on the morning of April 22nd , 2010.

Location of Deepwater Horizon


Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)



Human: 11 died, 17 injured,

6,814 dead animals: 6,104 birds,

609 sea turtles, 100 dolphins and

Sothermammals, and 1 reptile.

Oil Spill covered 580 square miles

Polluted coastal areas

Beaches inconvenient for scuba diving, fishing, swimming

3 leaks in Riser

5000 Barrels of oil leakage per day

Technical issue

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)

Technical Issue:

Flawed testing procedure

Insufficient testing done on the foam cement slurry before the actual usage

No clear guidelines for the negative pressure test to check the integrity of wellhead seal assembly

Flawed Safety System

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning fans and dampers were not electrically classified upon gas detection.

The emergency systems in operating blowout preventer of the oil rig faces many potential problems that limits its functionality.

Allowed drilling without needed permits

Insufficient safety checks

Human error

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)

Human Error:

Am I to Blame?

Misjudgment due to unwarranted assumptions

Wrongly concluded that the well integrity has been established

Lack of evaluation process after cement placement

Flawed Cost Benefit Analysis

BP wellhead’s blowout preventer are not fitted with an remote-control for emergency use

Down play seriousness of issue:

- Actual 24000 barrels were leaked instead

of 7000 barrels

- Operation was already 5 weeks late and

adopted riskier procedures to save time and money

- In late march 2010, blowout preventer was damaged in a previously unreported accident and workers were afraid that they could get fired for

raising safety concerns that might delay drilling

Ceo tony hayward

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)

CEO Tony Hayward

Slowness to react

Government intervention was late due to political system in USA

BP rejected help from other countries with expertise

Lack of professional attitude

‘I want my life back’ comment made to Americans.

Went for a yacht holiday in the midst of the crisis

Information manipulation

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)

Information Manipulation:

BP president reconfirmed that the damaged well’s maximum release rate hovered around 5,000 barrels a day. However Professor from Purdue University estimated the release rate to be 65,000 barrels a day.

BP bought sponsored links for Yahoo and Google so that they could manipulate search results for company safe image.

Ethical Issues:

If BP managers were public (i.e. Fishermen or people who live by the coast) they may want to know the actual amount of oil spill and their affect on livelihood and health.

The authority and environmentalists also need the actual data to take the appropriate measure to solve oil spill. Thus, BP should not underestimate the spill rate.

Karman n ghia school of aerospace systems university of cincinnati cincinnati ohio

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)


Code of Ethics:

- Use the liner/tie back option and 21 centralizers. Also run the cement bond log test

Finding the best Compromise:

- Safety should not be linked with cost or time

External Whistle-Blowing Agencies:

- Engaged an external auditing company to have a whistle-blowing hotline where employees can file allegations against their own company anonymously

Respecting the Hierarchy of the company:

- Instead of risking his job by stopping the work immediately, one should consult with his colleagues and supervisor regarding the problem.

Internal Task force:

- To ensure critical equipment's are always in good condition

Karman n ghia school of aerospace systems university of cincinnati cincinnati ohio

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)



  • Cohen, Kelly, “Ethics in Engineering”, AEEM 361, University of Cincinnati

  • Mantei, Thomas, “Academic Integrity and Plagiarism”, CEAS, University of Cincinnati, 2012

Asce code of ethics
ASCE Code of Ethics


Asce code of ethics cont d
ASCE Code of Ethics(cont’d…)

Cost and time vs safety

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)

Cost and Time Vs. Safety:

Liner/Tieback has a higher chance to succeed in cement lift, but takes more time and cost to build than long string casing. BP decide to us long sting casing because of less cost and less time consuming.

Instead of 21 centralizers requested by the model maker, BP engineer used only 10 centralizers. Centralizers are used to prevent the risk of gas flowing up the annular space around the casing due to formation of channels in the cement

Skipped cement bond log test that determine whether the cement has bonded to the casing and surrounding formation to save time, about 9 to 12 hours. Also taking the test would have cost $128,000, cancelling it will cost only $10,000

Modified Blowout preventer used had a increased risk of failure. Blowout preventer is a device that automatically cuts the pipe and seals from the well to prevent the oil leaking from the well in case any failure in system occurres.

Ethical issues

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)

Ethical Issues:

BP engineer should have chosen line/tie back casing and more centralizers installation to avoid drawbacks

Cement bond test should not be ignored due to high price and to save 9 to 12 hours of working time

Even though BP did the right things in terms of cost benefits analysis, it should not be used here as it concerned lives of the workers on the oil rig platform and the marine lives.

BP was able to save $128,000 without the cement bond test, however due to explosion and oil leakage, they were fined $37.2 Billions. They had to pay more than the amount they should have spend on well design, centralizers and cement bond log, i.e. they under estimated the amount of money needed to pay if any accident occured.

Communication and company culture

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)

Communication and Company Culture:

BP management decision that led to accident could have been averted by the Deepwater Horizon rig personnel's who had concerns regarding the safety. Even though after the whistle blow by the personnel's, the workers fulfilled their duty. If every workers had abandoned their responsibility, no action would have been taken by the company

Workers should respect their colleagues’ live and public’s health and have respect for company. Their outweigh respect to the company led to tragedy. Thus the workers took the wrong decision.

Some workers are partly to be blame for not reporting what was going wrong. It could be due to BP ‘s culture too. Workers did not report as they understood that the act of raising safety concerns could delay the work and that they could lose their job.

The company might have fired some workers to protect the company’s image and respect the company. However they neglected respect for individual worker’s honesty and dignity.

Case study

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (Gulf of Mexico)

Case Study:

Not the first accident in BP history

- March 2005, Explosion in BP’s refinery in Texas City, Texas; 15

workers died, 170 were injured, 4,800 barrels of oil was found in

Alaska, 5000km away from the refinery in Texas.

BP was warned to check pipeline in 2002, but ignored it and paid $12 million fine.

BP violated its own policies and made 18 hours work shifts daily for 75% of the workers

BP fails to learn from past mistakes:

Violates its own policies and code of ethics

Huge trade-off in safety for lower cost and for saving time.

Management does not share the same safety view as the employees.

An engineer s right to protest
An Engineer’s Right to Protest

Introduction -

  • Kim works as an engineer for a civil engineering contractor reviewing the work of subcontractors.

  • Kim discovers that certain subcontractors have made submissions with excessive cost, time delays or substandard work

  • Kim advises management to reject these jobs and require subcontractors to correct the problem

An engineer s right to protest1
An Engineer’s Right to Protest

Introduction, continued -

  • After an extended disagreement about the subcontractor’s work, management places a warning in Kim’s file and places Kim on probation, warning of future termination

An engineer s right to protest2
An Engineer’s Right to Protest

Question -

  • Does Engineer A have an ethical obligation, or an ethical right, to continue his efforts to secure change in the policy of his employer under these circumstances, or to report his concerns to proper authority?

An engineer s right to protest3
An Engineer’s Right to Protest

Code of Ethics References

  • "Engineers shall at all times recognize that their primary obligation is to protect the safety, health, property, and welfare of the public. If their professional judgment is overruled under circumstances where the safety, health, property, or welfare of the public are endangered, they shall notify their employer or client and such other authority as may be appropriate."

  • "Engineers shall not complete, sign, or seal plans and/or specifications that are not of a design safe to the public health and welfare and in conformity with accepted engineering standards. If the client or employer insists on such unprofessional conduct, they shall notify the proper authorities and withdraw from further service on the project."

An engineer s right to protest4
An Engineer’s Right to Protest

Discussion -

“Here the issue does not allege a danger to public health or safety, but is premised upon a claim of unsatisfactory plans and the unjustified expenditure of public funds.”

“As we recognized in earlier cases, if an engineer feels strongly that an employer's course of conduct is improper when related to public concerns, and if the engineer feels compelled to blow the whistle to expose the facts as he sees them, he may well have to pay the price of loss of employment.”

An engineer s right to protest5
An Engineer’s Right to Protest

Discussion, continued

“We feel that the ethical duty or right of the engineer becomes a matter of personal conscience, but we are not willing to make a blanket statement that there is an ethical duty in these kinds of situations for the engineer to continue his campaign within the company, and make the issue one for public discussion. The Code only requires that the engineer withdraw from a project and report to proper authorities when the circumstances involve endangerment of the public health, safety, and welfare.”

An engineer s right to protest6
An Engineer’s Right to Protest

Conclusion –

“Engineer A does not have an ethical obligation to continue his effort to secure a change in the policy of his employer under these circumstances, or to report his concerns to proper authority, but has an ethical right to do so as a matter of personal conscience.”