Engineering: The Bay Area Rapid Transit Case Study

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Engineers design, build or maintain applications and systems to solve various societal problems. Their behaviors thus have a non-negligible impact on human development. Oftentimes, however, engineers are faced with the dilemma to choose between compromising their code of ethics and threatening their promising careers. It is important that engineers deem public welfare as a supreme concern and stand their ground so that they will report any observed situations that potentially can harm public safety to their superiors. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) case study is a good example of engineers being responsible with society in that they attempted multiple times to inform their supervisors in management about their concerns with the possible…show more content…
Another was that PBTB overcharged BART for the system engineering and construction-management services rendered (Friedlander, 1973). Post’s investigative team concluded that BART was unsafe in essence (Post, 1972).
Engineering problems contributed to the BART incident, but a bigger and more serious issue underneath the failure was the ethical lapse. To analyze these ethical lapses, the ethical framework of duty ethics is employed. Duty ethics refers to the idea that one’s decisions are moral if they are made based off one’s duties. It states people should act in a way that adheres to rules or principles. Consequences, however, are not important in duty ethics.
As appeared on the IEEE Committee on Social Implications of Technology (CSIT) September 1973 Newsletter, three engineers expressed their concerns about the inadequate ATC development to the management, but did not receive significant response. One of them was Holger Hjortsvang, a system engineer in the BART Maintenance Section. According to his memorandum, he became, over a period of years, increasingly concerned with the way the development of this system was progressing (Hjortsvang, 1971). Hjortsvang then convey these worries to his managers both orally and in a series of five written memorandums. Nonetheless, managers did not take his concerns into consideration. Another was programmer

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