REFLECTION 8: LINE DRAWING

In this final assignment we were asked to look at a test case in which we had to use the technique of Line Drawing.

The test case we were presented with was as follows:

John is an engineer at a large electronics firm. It is his job to specify the criteria for a large order of amplifiers. After some research and testing he decides to use ACME amplifiers for the job. Three weeks after the order goes in an ACME representative visits him and gives him and his family a voucher for an all-expense paid trip to the ACME conference in Jamaica. This includes some training sessions on ACME products in the mornings and day trips to the beach and rum factories in the afternoons.

Then the question we were asked was:

” Should John accept the offer? “

Individual

(What did I know about this before?)

 

Before this exercise I thought that “Line Drawing “ in it’s general sense is a decision making process, which involves some techniques, not very familiar to me. I had some idea about what is meant to be achieved but nothing clear enough to understand the purpose of using “Line Drawing” when decisions have to be made in Engineering. I knew that, as with every decision making process this would probably involve breaking down the problem in segments and look at it from professional and ethical point of view to try to come up with a solution.

Still, I had nothing clear in my mind before we were presented with our test case, which I have outlined above.

Contextual

(Why is this important for an engineer?)

Line Drawing is used in cases where we are unsure how to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable actions. It can be applied to the analysis of a concept. In our test case is the concept of bribery. It can be helpful to us to clarify the basic meaning of the concept of bribery or any other concept for that matter. Can also be used determine if actions undertaken by John in our case are right or wrong in the given circumstances. Again let’s remind our self’s what “Line Drawing” is?

Comparing two cases against each other. First case is a clear-cut unproblematic case called paradigm case and second case is the where we need to make a decision about right and wrong called test case. By just comparing each detail with the paradigm case we have to draw the line

and come up with a solution to the problem underlined in our test case

It is very important for any engineer to be familiar with this technique in order to make the right decisions in the future.

Developmental

(How will you take this forward? What specific things will you do?)

 

I am not really sure at this stage how exactly I’m going to take this forward but obviously this technique is very useful and effective in wide variety of cases. It does seem like an easy way to approach morally complicated cases. It will certainly improve and enhance my decision-making abilities for my future career as an engineer. At this time I can’t think of any specific things that I will do.

Most likely I will trust my moral and ethical values and the ability to improvise if presented with a test case.

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REFLECTION 7: PRIVACY

Individual

(What did I know about privacy before now?)

 

I had some knowledge about privacy and mainly Internet browsing privacy including issues involved with accessing the world wide web, online shopping and so on. I spent 2 years in Mallow College studying computer networking & maintenance. Over that period of time I gained knowledge that opened my eyes to how things can go out of control if we are not careful when we use the Internet. Further more my credit card details were stolen once and I was very lucky to discover that nearly on the next day and cancel my card. Since then I keep in mind that no web site is safe enough and nobody is safe when browsing the Internet or shopping online. Security can be compromised and breached in some cases exposing personal information that no one should see.

Contextual

 (Why is privacy an important consideration for an engineer?)

 

As future engineers we will be dealing with the newest technologies and inventions. It does sound very exciting but are we going to be asked to make a compromise when it comes down to privacy of a client or an employer if substantial amount of money is involved. I am sure that some of us will have to make that choice in the near future.

As professionals we have the obligation to the public to take full responsibility for any products we create and any actions we undertake as mentioned in the Code of Ethics of an engineer. We could have access to enormous amount of private data including personal details of clients or new developments and projects. It is up to us to protect this data, be a professional and keep our dignity.

Relational

(What did I learn about privacy from this problem?)

This exercise only confirmed something that I already knew about how much information is available just by spending 10 minutes of research using Google search engine. The amount of information is just overwhelming and scary. I’ve heard of people trying to delete their profiles on Social websites as Google + , Facebook etc. and just when they thought that everything is gone they went back and saw that their accounts and personal information is still out there on line.

I know for a fact that everyone who does online shopping has a profile build by the online retailer (Amazon, Ebay) with all his/hers preferences and date-by-date purchase history. It is a very complicated world out there and many companies are at war for consumers. They are willing to go the extra mile so they can get us to shop with them. Hundreds of thousands of engineers are employed by this massive companies and their job is to keep us buying from the company they are working for.

As future engineers we might be facing the same working conditions as our fellows involved with this at the moment.

Development

 (What specific things will I do with the new insight that I have gained?)

 

From personal point of view this exercise just reminded me to be even more vigilant revealing any personal information about my self. I have to make sure in the future that I need to follow the code of ethics and be morally responsible in my professional career as an engineer.

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REFLECTION:6 Ethical Conflict & Creative Middle Ways

This week’s assignment involved ethical conflict and creative middle ways.

We were presented with a situation that can occur at any work place these days. The CEO of a company has negotiated contract to crash test cars using child cadavers. This obviously caused a bit of a conflict within the company’s employees and engineers in particular.

Our job was to put our self’s in this situation and try to come up with middle way of solving this issue.

Individual

 (What did you know about this issue before?)

I never thought about car crash test been done in such way and before we were presented with this case I’ve never heard of anything like this before. To my surprise this was done since the 70’s. I always assumed that dummies were used to model the human body and the effects of car accidents were then computably modeled to fit the car manufacturer’s requirements. When we were presented first with this assignment I felt that this was inhumane and people were gone a bit too far this time.

Being a parent I was in a bit of shock at first and took me some time to get my head around the issue of using dead kids to be used in crash testing.

 

 

Contextual

(Why is knowledge of this issue important for an engineer?)

 

As future engineers we have to be able to face such problems in a constructive way and try and come up with a middle way, which is going to satisfy the employer and our self’s as well. Having this knowledge of how to deal with ethical conflicts and how to create middle ways is very important for our future career and development as engineers. Some of us might be facing a similar problem in the next 3-4 years, so we need to be prepared to deal with it quickly and with confidence keeping in mind the fact that some times we have to push boundaries in order to achieve progress and useful results.

 

Relational

 (What did you learn from this problem?)

 

Over the course of my research for this presentation I find out that some times we need to take step back and look at situation from personal and professional point of view. We have to weigh the facts and rely on facts and rock solid data when presented with an ethical conflict situation where we need to make the right choice i.e. create middle way of solving the issue and keep the employer happy. On the other side we need to follow the code of ethics of an engineer and try not to compromise with our self’s as human beings. Personally I would not be comfortable working in a place where child cadavers been used as a crash dummies but as we’ve seen in live we can be faced with even worse situation in our future careers as engineers.

 

 

Developmental

 (What specific things will you do with this learning?)

 

I presume what I am going to take on board from this unusual exercise is that if I am presented with similar conflict in the future I will try not to over react, but remember the way I approached this exercise and how we were able to come up with a solution (middle way) for this particular problem. It is hard to predict what is going to happen in our future careers but I know that I am ready to deal with ethical conflicts that will occur in everyday life.

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REFLECTION: 5 Emerging Technologies

Individual

(What did I know about emerging technologies, engineering and ethics before this?)

About a week ago we were presented with the following exercise:

Consider the professional engineering issues involved in the development and deployment of robot soldiers.

The whole exercise was about emerging technologies. The hidden question by my opinion was how are we prepared professionally as engineers to develop and deploy lethal weapons, robot soldiers in this particular case. We had to look at all professional and ethical issues involved in the process.

Personally I try to make my self aware of all the latest technologies by reading latest PC news and magazines but I didn’t really knew much about development and deployment of robots on the battle field’s front line. As a part of Team 2 I did an extensive research on the matter and by the end of my research I had a very good idea where we are in terms of development and usage of so called robot soldiers. The facts were a bit overwhelming at first but reading through the information drew a path that some governments were following in the last 30 years or so. There were hundreds of millions invested in research and development of a single robot that was never used for safety issues. This fact begged the question “ Why not spend it on something that is not meant to kill people?” like a cancer research for example. As we all know new technologies save lives on daily basis but as well as that these same new emerging technologies are used for intimidating and in some cases killing innocent people in our modern world. How can we justify that?

Looking at the code of ethics of an engineer we can clearly see that when some of the new technologies were developed, code of ethics were ignored or over looked or not even considered as a guideline how to develop and deploy new engineering technologies.

 

Contextual

(Why is it important for an engineer to consider ethics when involved in emerging technologies?)

Let’s look at the Code of Ethics of an Engineer.

1.9 At all times in their relations with the public, Members shall apply their skill and experience to the common good and the advancement of human welfare with proper regard for the safety, health and welfare of the public.

A Member shall not engage in any activity, which he/she knows or has

reasonable grounds for believing is likely to result in a serious detriment

to any person or persons.

2.3 Members shall strive to ensure that engineering projects for which they are responsible will, as far as is practicable, have minimal adverse effects on the environment, on the health and safety of the public and on social and cultural structures.

These two points very much answer the question why do we need to consider ethics when we work on new technologies that is about to change people’s lives. In many cases these are the only guidelines available for engineers dealing with emerging technologies. As engineers we have to make tough choices and decisions under pressure from employers and deadlines but there’s one thing we have to keep in mind that we are responsible and will be held accountable for any faults or issues concerning human wellbeing. We have to be able to look from technical and ethical side of the problem we are facing.

Relational

 (What did I learn from this problem about emerging technologies and ethics?)

Over the course of my research for this presentation I discovered facts that really shocked me at first. I found out that people have become very creative when trying to kill other people. The trend in the last 30 years is to develop and deploy highly intelligent and heavily armed machines to try and interfere with military conflicts around the world. Even though there was some success there was a lot of failures too. We all read and hear on the radio how many times civilians are killed because the new technologies like flying drones are failing us. From all the research and conversations we had within the group we all concluded that people don’t have the save technology yet to develop and deploy such technologies as robot soldiers. Perhaps engineers should concentrate on new more effective technologies, which are going to help us become undependable from fossil fuels and minimize our impact on planet earth.

Developmental

(How will I take this learning forward? What specific things will I do in the future based on what I’ve learned?)

 

Been involved in research and development of emerging technologies is the main reason I signed up for this course. There’s no better place to start than engineering course in a University. Looking forward in the future I will have to learn how to make future-proof choices when it comes to new technologies that I don’t know the effect off. All possible options and scenarios will be put on the table and considered before any decision is made. I learned that I have to be able to make my self aware of all possible consequences of these new technologies, which means not to rush in implementing something that is going to have adverse effect on the environment or human population.

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REFLECTION:4 CRITICAL THINKING

Individual

(What did you already know about critical thinking?)

When we were given the assignment, which meant to teach us how to develop critical thinking as engineers I was a bit confused of the term “critical thinking in engineering”.

After a few days extensive research reading various documents and publications I began to understand that banning of lead in solder was just a simple example to make us think about the sustainable development and as engineers we need to think when designing any product about the long term effect on the environment and the next generations to come.

On this particular assignment I strongly agreed with the EU RoHS Directive for banning the use of lead in solder. Growing back in the eighties I had a neighbor who worked in car battery production plant for over 10 years and his health was destroyed completely by the working environment in the factory. All the fumes and gasses he inhaled, mainly lead based damaged his internal organs and as far as I can remember he died of lead poisoning shortly after he was enable to go to work any more.

We learned in school the lead is poisonous but unless you see the effects it has on a human being you don’t realize how toxic and dangerous it is.

Contextual

(Why is critical thinking important for an engineer?)

According to Facione, core critical thinking skills are interpretation, analysis, inference, explanation, evaluation, and self-regulation

Critical thinking is important. An engineer’s critical thinking skills — or lack thereof — is the single biggest factor in an engineer’s ability to form opinions, make decisions, and solve problems. I’m pretty sure it’s the single most important skill that an engineer can have.

But I’m willing to keep an open mind, if anyone can offer up a skill you believe is more important.

And it is a skill, too, not a natural ability. In fact, critical thinking is the exact opposite of what comes naturally. It is basically the ability to overcome our own human nature — our built-in sensory-perceptive shortcomings and hard-wired cognitive biases. That’s why it is important to educate our self’s and practice critical thinking every single day.

Relational

(What did I learn from this exercise about critical thinking?)

From this “Critical thinking” exercise I can take on board that no matter what is the issue, problem or a situation we have to rely on the facts when making decisions. In any case there won’t be a perfect solution but we have to try and get as close as we can to one. As engineers we have to overcome emotions and preferences in order to make the right call. Every side of the problem has to looked at, every possible decision has to be argued before is been put through. In this line of taught I must mention that engineers need to stick to the fundamentals taught in University such as:

– Apply logical principles and rigorous standards of facts and evidence

– Determine the significance of the problem

– Analyze and interpret the results of evaluation of the problem

As professionals I think we need to develop an engineering judgment to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Developmental

(How will this learning guide me in the future? What specific things will I do and how will I act?)

 

For my future development as a professional engineer I would like to follow something very important that I learned from this exercise:

–       Know the facts, analyze the facts and obey the facts.

It is simple as that. Been objective and been critical is crucial for an engineer. Following the Code of Ethics is another very important aspect of this exercise. Without Code of Ethics and been able think critically an engineer will be completely lost in the near future. All big companies in the world prefer engineers, which were already taught how to think critically and how to follow the Code of Ethics so if I want to work for Intel, Microsoft or Apple for example I will need to develop and improve my critical thinking abilities every single day.

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Reflection 3: Responsibility in Engineering

Individual

(What did I know about responsibility and engineering before this?)

When our team was presented with this assignment I taught that I knew a good bit about responsibilities and been responsible for your actions.

I did ask my self a question though “ What do I really know about responsibility and been a responsible engineer? ”

Well, been a parent with over 10 years work experience on different jobs plus time spent in the army taught me a good bit about responsibility. Having done a good research when preparing our second presentation opened my eyes to a prospect of life where been responsible engineer is not as easy as everyone taught in the first place. Being responsible person does not necessarily means that you are going to automatically become responsible engineer.

I presume that everyone thought about how much people these days depend on engineers to be responsible and moral in their everyday life. How we all depend on “simple” things like buses, cars etc. things that we take for granted.

Contextual

(Why is responsibility important for engineers?)

 

When I try to answer this question to my self I always think about the difference between the moral responsibility and the legal responsibility. Confusion occurs in any many cases and in some of this cases engineers are presented with tough decisions to make and they have to be able to distinguish between the two and make the correct decision in the end of the day. The moral responsibility refers to the general values of humanity, dignity and of the quality and the improvement of the human life.

On the other hand, the legal responsibility derives from the legislation in force in a certain country.

It is limited and lack of legality is possible to act in illegal way. A clear example is the advances in genetic engineering, biotechnology and information technologies.

In relation to my thoughts I would just ask you to imagine living in a world where engineers are not necessarily responsible.

What would life look like then?

Relational

(What specifically did I learn from the case studies and from my classmates?)

In class we were presented with the Carter Racing case study where we had around 20 min to decide if the team is going to race or not.

We, as a team and individuals decided that the Carter team will go ahead and race without too much consideration of the data we were presented with.

We didn’t know if we were right or wrong but at the time we didn’t even know how to think as a responsible engineers and to evaluate all the facts and data available when making final decision.

This small exercise taught me a great lesson of the impact of the decisions made by engineers in different areas. In relation to that we looked at the Challenger disaster and the impact it had on all people around the world.

Personally I think that as future engineers it is our duty like it or not to obey save practices and to follow the code of ethics.

As we have seen from all great engineering disasters in the last 50 years, competence and responsibilities are the most important in our future life as engineers.

From my classmates I learned that as a team we could off prepared a lot better for our second presentation and to spare a few blushes to our teammate presenter.

Developmental

(What will I bring from this experience into my future engineering practice?)

 

Completing the case study in class and preparing our second presentation gave me a good hint what would be expected from my colleagues and me in our future as engineers.

We as engineers have to vigorously test any product that is going to be released for use by the public and make sure that we follow the moral code of conduct as well as the professional code in order to prevent any harm that we may cause indirectly to the society or environment.

This all boils down to common sense and being a human before everything else. In all modern societies where money dictates all new trends we have to think outside the box and not be influenced when making decisions by money, fame and so on.

As a team we work very efficiently together and we are able to split the workload among all team members so we can all have equal contribution in the end of the day.

I think that this is very important for a group of young developing engineers.

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A few books that you might find usefull

( To download just right click and choose Save Link As)

Elementary Linear Algebra with Applications-VirtualBSCS.blogspot (MA4003)

Electronic Devices 9th edition by Floyd (EE4313)

Algorithms.in.JavaC (CE4703)

AbsoluteJava5ed2012 (CE4703)

Verilog_-_A_Guide_to_Digital_Design_and_Synthesis (EE4513)

Advanced Engineering Mathematics (9th Edition, 2006) – Kreyszig (MA4003)

Verilog_hdl_2nd_edition_samir_palnitkar (EE4513)

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