ENG3003: Case Study - Discussion and Analysis of Ethical Issues - Engineering Management Assessment Answers

November 01, 2018
Author : Julia Miles

Solution Code: 1EAD

Question: Engineering Management

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Engineering practice case study

CASE STUDY: LAURA’S DILEMMA

Laura Jenkins is a qualified environmental engineer who graduated from the University of Stoneybrook two years ago. Laura works for Kentridge Consulting Engineers and she has been with the company since she finished her university studies. Kentridge Consulting Engineers is located in Briswin and has about 25 engineers who are mainly involved with the design of civil engineering structures. Laura is one of two environmental engineers with the company. Her boss and mentor is Keith Inglewood, who is 50 years old and graduated from university 25 years ago as an agricultural scientist. Keith originally worked in agriculture as a consultant on cropping andlandcare, but gradually the focus of his career changed to the assessment of the impact of new engineering works on the environment. He has been with Kentridge Consulting for 7 years, and he and Laura are the “environmental team” of the company. The role of the environmental team is to assess the environmental impacts of the company’s projects and to carry out the necessary liaison with the various stakeholders to ensure that environmental issues are adequately assessed and controlled in both the design and construction phases. Most of the work in the company is performed using design teams of civil engineers, draftspersons, and an environmental engineer.

For the last 7 months Laura has been working on the Risdon Underpass Project. This project is to design a road underpass which will carry the Goldray Freeway beneath the Risdon State Environmental Park for a distance of 850 metres. The Goldray Freeway is an 8 lane, 23 km long road being financed by the State Government which links the major urban centres of Briswin and Adelorne. The project has been strongly supported by Ted Power, the Minister for Highways in the State Government, who also happens to be the elected representative for the electorate in which the Risdon State Environment Park is located. The Minister has made statements that the whole freeway will be completed within a 5 year period, but just 12 months into the work there are indications that several sections of the work are behind schedule.

The Risdon State Environmental Park is an extremely sensitive environmental area. It is home to a large colony of koalas, and is the only known location of the yellow throated giant earthworm. Initially it was hoped that the underpass could be constructed by the cut and cover method, where an excavation is made in the ground for the concrete tunnel, the concrete tunnel section is built, then the tunnel is covered with earth and revegetated to its original condition. Environmental lobby groups quickly pressured the Government, and it was agreed that the underpass would be bored beneath the existing forest area using a large tunnel boring machine (TBM).

The design team for the underpass are Frank Cluey, an experienced structural engineer, Bob Markem, a design draftsman, and Laura. Design work on the tunnel has progressed to a stage where Frank has completed all the design and Bob has the drawings and contract documentation about 75% complete.

Laura has had quite a lot of work to do on this project and has found the work challenging, stressful, but rewarding. She has been responsible for the environmental assessment of the project as well as the community liaison for the project.

The design for the bored tunnel has positioned the top of the roof of the tunnel approximately 4 metres below the existing ground surface. Positioning of the tunnel was based on a series of test borings taken along the alignment of the tunnel, and environmental impact assessment by Laura. The borings revealed that the tunnel would be bored through a very heavy clay soil (not rock). Laura examined the habitat of the yellow throated giant earthworm and found that colonies of the worm existed to a depth of 1.5 metres.

For the past week Laura has been attending a conference on invertebrate animals and one of the presentations she listened to was a paper explaining that the habitats ofworms of the genus wigula often extend to a great depth in soil profiles. The yellow throated giant earthworm is of the genus wigula. This new information has of course concerned Laura because the habitat of the yellow throated giant earthworm may be severely affected if this new information is correct and the tunnel is placed only 4 metres below the ground surface.

Upon returning from the conference on Friday morning, Laura has discussed this new finding with Keith, who has told her that she very quickly needs to investigate the situation further, for if this new information is correct there is no way that the tunnel work should proceed without redesign.

Laura has also spoken to Frank Cluey about the findings. Frank, predicably, exploded with anger and derision when Laura told him the news. He told her that the tunnel design work was far too advanced to consider any redesign, and that “if the colony of these bloody worms was wiped out, that was just too bad!”.

It is 3:30 pm on Friday afternoon and Laura is just about to leave work and drive to Adelorne to attend her grandmother’s eightieth birthday party. The telephone rings and Laura answers it. The caller is Lou Bandock, president of the environmental action group GreenWorld. Lou is very angry and tells Laura that his group considers that Laura has given them false information. He has found out that the vibrations caused by tunnel boring machines working in the heavy clay soil are likely to be detrimental to the health of koalas and that the animals will become stressed and almost certainly die. His group is planning to protest outside Ted Power’s home, starting at 7am tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

Assignment Task

Identify and discuss the ethical issues and professional responsibility (including technical and communication issues) involved in this case. What courses of action would be appropriate for Laura to follow, starting immediately (i.e. at 3:30 pm Friday afternoon)?

Notes: (i) Marks will be allocated in the following way:

Identification and Discussion of Issues:

(ii) The case should be examined and reported using the guidelines set out in ‘The Case Study’ section of the Course Assessment file in the Course Content.

(iii) The information contained in the Case Study is considered sufficient to adequately answer the question. If, however, you consider that certain assumptions are required, you may make these assumptions. Any assumptions made will need to be clearly stated. The possible penalty will be that if you make assumptions your mark will be downgraded, and it is likely that the more assumptions you make the greater will be the extent of the downgrading.

(iv) The answer should be no more than 2000 words. The final section of the main body of the report should clearly identify the courses of action that Laura should follow. This section will be a major section of the report on which technical content will be judged. The conclusions reached and action recommended, however, will need to be supported by the arguments presented in the previous sections of the report. This final section should be between 200 and 250 words in length.

(v) Your report should have a formal format with title page, executive summary,contents page and references. The report should be word processed.

(vi) The exact number of words in the report, and in the final section, should bereported on the Title Page.

(vii) Written communication will be assessed in this assignment and will contribute to your overall Communications mark in the course ENG3003 Engineering Management.

(viii) Please note that if plagiarism or cheating is detected in this assignment it will result in no marks for the assignment. Students should ensure they clearly understand the meaning of plagiarism and cheating. In particular, students should understand that while they may collaborate with other students on the conceptual ideas in their assignments, the final written report submitted by each student must be unique, and must not contain the written material of (a) any other student in the course, or (b) any other person without due acknowledgement.

(ix) All sources of information used in the preparation of the report should be adequately referenced, and you will be expected to have consulted works outside the formal study materials. In particular you will need to have consulted the Code of Ethics of Engineers Australia to discern and discuss the ethical issues.

(x) If you wish to refer to some environmental guidelines or legislation you may only use such material from either Australia, or the country in which you reside while undertaking this course, and you must adequately reference such material.

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Solution: Testing of a New Lubricant in Metal Forming

  • Executive Summary

This report is based on the Case Study provided under the Engineering Management focusing on the existence of ethical and professional responsibility issues existing in a under pass construction project in The Risdon State Environmental Park. In total, five issues have been addressed in the report that covers both the ethical issues and professional responsibility (both technical and communication) issues. Major ethical issues identified and discussed in the report are: the wrong choice of under pass construction place chosen by the State Government. It is ethically wrong to choose a place for construction of under pass which will badly impact on the animals dwelling in the area and thus the environment. Next, is the delay in carrying out the assessment of the chosen area which shows improper planning in project progress. Also, delay in managing schedule and limited focus on study are other technical issues observed in the case study provided.

  • Identification and Discussion of Issues

This section of the Report based on the Case Study provided in the Engineering Management Practice focuses on the identification and in – depth discussion of the ethical issues and professional responsibility issues involved in the case study. Professional responsibility issues that are identified and discussed in the report include technical and communication issues. Following sections focuses on each of the issues identification and discussion.

  • Ethical Issues –

  • The Chosen Area for the Construction of Under Pass

After detailed analysis of the case study provided, the first and foremost and also the crucial ethical issue identified is the improper or inappropriate site / area chosen for the construction of Under Pass in The Risdon State Environmental Park. It was already known in advance that the area in which the construction of Risdon Under Pass has been proposed is extremely sensitive environmental area. Ted Power, who is the Minister for Highways in the State Government should have not approved for the project implementation in The Risdon State Environmental Park. Instead Ted Power should have rejected the implementation of the entire Risdon Under Pass Project stating that the area is extremely sensitive environmental area and thus, it is inappropriate to construct the Under Pass as the animals dwelling in that area would be highly affected. Ted Power could ask his sub ordinates and also the Construction Company to search and identify other possible areas for the construction of under pass in and around the Risdon State Environmental Park. These alternative options would then be analysed and evaluated based on the environmental and feasibility assessment factors and give further approval for the under pass construction. Government bodies should not consider the issues related to environment so lightly and instead strict actions must be taken in order to preserve the environment. (Kvale, 1995)

  • Delay in carrying out environmental assessment process –

After acquiring permission from Ted Power, Minister for Highways in the State Government, immediate environmental assessment of The Risdon State Environmental Park area on the basis of feasibility of construction of the Under Pass was not carried out by the environmental team led by Laura and her boss, Keith. It is the duty of the environmental team to conduct and in – depth and an effective analysis on the chosen area for the construction of Under Pass. This is ethically wrong as there was massive delay in the environmental and surrounding assessment process even after knowing that the chosen area is extremely environmental sensitive. Instead the environment – based assessment was initiated after a long gap of about 4 months after the acquiring the approval for the project implementation in The Risdon State Environmental Park. From this particular ethical issue description, it is quite clear that there is lot of negligence in the approach adopted by all the stakeholders involved in the project – The State Government, The Environmental Team and the Construction Team. (SONENSHEIN, 2007) The State Government should have provided the Environmental Team access to various environmental summits conducted worldwide providing training on the environmental assessment tools and strategies to be adopted especially for the areas that are environmental sensitive. Also, the environmental team in association with the construction team should have requested the State Government to provide appropriate training and access to environmental – based assessment tools and strategies.

  • Professional Responsibility Issues –

  • Issues in maintaining Construction Schedule –

From the case study description, the first technical issue identified under the professional responsibility issue is the issue in maintaining the proper schedule designed and approved for the construction of under pass in The Risdon State Environmental Park. One of the most important factors that is responsible for the success of any project is the design and implementation of project schedule. All the actions or tasks associated with the project must be completed on the stipulated date and time and failing which will result great lag in the duration of project completion. Also, delay in task completion will also affect on the quality and efficiency of the construction of under pass project. Another aspect associated with the technical issue is the failure of high managerial authorities to inspect and monitor the progress of construction project. Managers associated with the technical aspects of construction should have motivated their sub – ordinates, designers and engineers to effectively follow the timeframe designed in the initial stage of the project. Strict monitoring of the progress of work on each day or per week basis should have been carried out in order to avoid the delay in under pass project completion. It can also be the case of developing unrealistic timeline / schedule for the completion of construction project. Overall, it affects the quality of project and also there can be significant changes in the budget as resource availability and other issues may arise in the course of project completion.

  • In – depth study on the effect on construction on the animals and environment –

Once the permission for construction of under pass in The Risdon State Environmental Park was obtained, it was the duty of the environmental team to properly develop a plan to carry out the analysis on The Risdon State Environmental Park and its surrounding in order to avoid any kind of negative impact on environment because of the under pass construction. Initially, the construction approach decided was “cut and cover” method but later it was changed to bore dig approach. After changing the approach from cut and cover to bore dig method, Laura then realized the need or importance of examining the soil and the animal dwelling in the concerned area. She examined the presence / dwelling of yellow throated giant earthworm and their presence in that area is very high and to a depth of 1.5 metres below the ground. Laura then sensed the rise of issue as bore was proposed to be dug in the area for the construction of under pass. Laura’s realization of presence of risk and issue in this context can be described as a technical issue or negligence in carrying out their roles in project completion. Also, Laura’s focus was only limited to the dwelling of yellow throated giant earthworm in the area. She attended a week – long conference that focused on the study of invertebrate animals. During one of the presentations, Laura noticed the dwelling of giant earthworm in a great depth under the soil. This clearly shows the wide gap that existed between the studies which was supposed to be conducted before the commencement of design of the under pass project. (Snyder, 2010) Also, the focus of study was very narrow as Laura only focused on the dwelling of yellow giant earthworms in the area and also, Laura was not properly guided by her boss Keith, which again describes the existence of communication issue / gap in the project. Another aspect of issue arose, when Laura received a call from Lou Bandock, who is the president of the environmental action group Green World. According to him, Laura had provided them with some wrong information about the environmental impact of the project. This again shows the presence of communication issue between the two parties. Upon discussion, Laura found that bore dig vibrations will have a great negative impact on Koalas which also dwell in that area. Laura had completely missed out on this issue / aspect, which show the lack of planning under the technical issue in the construction project. Proper communication with proper assessment planning with frequent trainings and access to tools would have helped Laura acquire and encounter the issues in environmental aspect under the under pass project implementation. (Katz, 1982)

  • Issues related to redesign of the entire under pass construction –

After the identification of critical issues related to the improper assessment of The Risdon State Environmental Park, Laura immediately spoke to Frank Cluey, who is the Structural Engineer and suggested on the redesign of the construction project of under pass in The Risdon State Environmental Park. According to the situation presented in the case study, redesign of the construction project was very much required in order to address the environmental issues. The professional responsibility issue described in this section is a major technical issue as it is the duty of engineers and design and the entire team to construct without affecting the environment. Also, knowing in advance, the environmental sensitivity issues of the concerned area, the designers and structural engineers should have considered this matter seriously and reported to their seniors for the approval of redesigning the project entirely explaining the issue encountered at this stage and later acquire immediate permission to redesign the project and implement it accordingly. A clear negligence from the design team is shown as an instance of technical issue in the case study.

  • Identification of Courses of Action

After having discussion with Lou Bandock, president of the environmental action group Green World, Laura should immediately contact her boss Keith and inform about the new issue of effect of bore dig vibrations on the life of Koalas. It is then the duty of Keith to immediately conduct a meeting to discuss the issue and address it without affecting the project implementation as it was already delaying in schedule. Laura must then try to collect more information about the nature of Koalas and the factors that affect their health and life. Keith and Laura can immediately contact the State Government to seek help on this issue as they will need their support to tackle this issue. Laura must keep studying on the issue without actually relying on the State Government as time was too less. It is the duty of Laura and Keith to understand the dwelling nature of Koalas and must thoroughly analyze if the vibration of bore dig will actually affect Koalas or not. After conducting some background study on Koalas, Laura and Keith must contact the structural engineer and designers and the entire team to understand the type of bore dig instrument used to understand the frequency of vibrations that are generated from the bore dig. Factors that are to be considered in this part of the analysis are – speed of the bore dig, distance of bore dig from the animal dwelling place and the factors affecting vibrations generated from bore dig instrument. Using these analyses, Laura and Keith must arrive at a solution to address to Lou Bandock and his entire team and ensure construction process is not affected. In case if the vibrations affect Koalas health and life, specific measures must be proposed and explained to Lou Bandock with proper justifications and in case, if there is no negative impact of bore dig vibrations on Koalas, then it must be explained to them with proper justification as well.

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