August 29, 2022
K-State engineering students earn honorable mention at national ethics contest
A team of students from the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering earned an honorable mention at the Milton F. Lunch Ethics Contest hosted by the National Society of Professional Engineers board.
The contest is offered each year in May and emphasizes the importance of engineers performing to the highest principles of ethical conduct. Engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity since engineering has a direct impact on the quality of life for all people. For the contest, the society's Board of Ethical Review furnished three key ethical issues. Participants were asked to select one and develop a submission that expressed their views and demonstrated an understanding of the ethical issues involved.
The K-State team, which was the lone honorable mention in addition to the overall winner, consisted of Bretlynn Ward, junior in architectural engineering, Berryton; Mallory Seirer, sophomore in architectural engineering, Newton; Alexis Reid, junior in architectural engineering, Valley Center; and Maren Ellis, May 2022 graduate in mechanical engineering, Omaha, Nebraska.
The team chose ethical issue No. 2, covering climate change and flooding. The question posed to the group centered on the ethical obligations of a consulting engineer who wants to conduct a costly analysis to confirm whether the project in question will increase the flood risk of upstream homes from the proposed development, as the code in the area has not been updated to reflect the realities of climate change and new weather patterns. The client wants to avoid the cost and hassle of a detailed analysis unless it's required by the regulatory authorities.
The group then answered a pair of questions regarding the ethics of the situation, including whether the engineer has an obligation to address or evaluate the impacts of a project on public health, safety and welfare with respect to climate change-induced conditions that have not yet occurred, and reasonable courses of action for engineering ethics in this situation.
The faculty advisor for the team was Kimberly Waggle Kramer, G.E. Johnson construction science chair and professor in the GE Johnson Department of Architectural Engineering and Construction Science.
The contest was a class assignment in Introduction to Building Systems. The students were divided into five teams, with a Kansas Society of Professional Engineers mentor for each team. The society members who reviewed the submittal prior to completion were professional engineers Tom Roberts, Bill Heatherman, Wayne Nelson, Brian Foster and Daniel Berges.