Factual Information

4 pages
881 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Case study
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Four key facts summarize the case. First, the walkway collapse occurred as a result of miscommunication between the design and the fabricating teams, G.C.E. International Inc. and Havens Steel Company respectively (Civil Engineering Careers, 2012). One year before the occurrence of the walkway collapse, there were significant changes that Havens Steel Company introduced into the G.C.E's design from a single rod to a double rod system as a way of simplifying assembly the undertaking but led to the weakening of the connector due to increasing load. The second factual information is the fabricator's sworn testimony in court claiming that they communicated with GCE to approve the changes but on the other hand, G.C.E. denied. Thirdly, there were previous instances such as the case of 1979 when the hotel's atrium roof, 2700 sq. Feet, collapsed while under construction due to the weak atrium's connections. According to G.C.E's testimony, despite the request to check the project while in its construction phase, the hotel owner failed to act on the requests citing cost issues. Lastly, the design of the walkway could not satisfy the prerequisite of the Building Code that Kansas City stipulated. According to investigators' report, the walkway's initial design was capable of holding 60% of the Building Code's minimum load (Civil Engineering Careers, 2012). At last, the evaluation found the two engineers, Gillum and Duncan with their employer firm, G.C.E. accountable for the collapse of the walkway. The primary ethical issue from the case study is public safety and the infringement of professional codes of conducts together with the jury's dilemma of deciding the responsible individuals for the incident.

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Ethical Issue

The professional ethical problem that concerns the three parties is the public safety. The case study reveals that the people involved, from the fabricator, designing team to the owner, did not have the interest of the hotel occupants and users at heart. Their actions and negligence of duty are the key aspects responsible for endangering public welfare, safety, and health. If all the project participants had diligently executed their duties, the issue would not occur, and there would be no loss of lives. There was an infringement of the first canon of Engineers Professional Ethics stating that engineers, while performing their duties shall take public's welfare, health and safety at their hearts and shall hold them utmost in their careers (ASME, 2012). Furthermore, the first part of the second canon of ASME Code of Ethics stipulates that engineers shall offer services only in the areas that they are competent. It is ironical for the Havens Steel Company to execute the design without both G.C.E's approval and the consideration of the Kansas City Building Code. The step challenges their competence. On the other hand, G.C.E's action of denying communication with the fabricators regarding design changes is a deception and an infringement of the 7-th canon of the ASME Code of Ethics (Civil Engineering Careers, 2012). The principle states that engineers shall give factual, truthful and objective public statements and shall restrain from acting in were that convey discredit to the engineering profession. The 4-th canon advocate for engineers to deliver their duties in a professional manner (ASME, 2012). However, there is an infringement of the rule from the sense of engineers' failure to conduct a thorough check of the shop's drawing and the lack of intervention after the initial collapse of the atrium hence working contrary to client's interest. From the 6-th provision of the ASME Code of Ethics, it is recommendable for engineers to associate themselves with reputable organizations and persons. However, the engineering firm's reputation is questionable because of its failure to accept accountability. Due to denial of the liability, the company's action is unethical, irresponsible and improper. It follows that it is professionally illegal to participate in perjury thus the firm's conduct has no capacity of enhancing value and reputation of engineering occupation.


I would solve the ethical dilemma regarding the responsible party in the incident through the application of moral and professional integrity in the dealings of every participant in the process. I would use the 1-st canon of ASME Code of Ethics to hold the engineers accountable for the incident. They took oaths concerning the protection of public's welfare, health, and safety hence by not taking contractor's suggestions seriously; there is a failure to perform the duty that their professional ethics bind them. Secondly, I would use deontology principles to solve by considering the suspects' decisions before the occurrence of the incident. For instance, engineers' decision to let the fabricators continue with the unchecked design changes is ethically wrong as the action led to the infringement of the 1-st section of the Professional Ethics (ASME, 2012). I would also use the third fundamental principle of Engineers Code of Ethics advocating for the engineer's effort to strive to enhance their competence. My evaluation would be that the design engineers' actions are contrary to the principle as they did not have the disposition of going extra miles to perform their responsibilities and adhere to the accepted minimum prerequisite of KC Building Code.


BIBLIOGRAPHY ASME. (2012). Code of Ethics for Engineers. New York: ASME.

Civil Engineering Careers. (2012, July 23). Civil Engineering Disasters - The Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapse. Retrieved from Civil Engineering Careers: http://www.civilengineeringcareers.org/civil-engineering-disasters-the-hyatt-regency-walkway-collapse

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