Spokane PE Addresses the Ethical Challenges of Autonomous Vehicles and Driver and Pedestrian Safety

Autonomous VehiclesBeth Hodgson, P.E., and her staff at Spring Environmental Inc. in Spokane, Washington, developed a PowerPoint presentation (with embedded sound) to show how an engineer’s ethical obligation is to advise the risk assessment team in ways that maintain public welfare overall. This presentation garnered them a win in the 2017 Milton F. Lunch Ethics Contest. (See Winning Entry-2017 with audio.) Hodgson’s team members included Julianne Gehlen, Amy Hooper, John Quinn, E.I.T., Jenelle R. P. Scott, P.E., Gabriel Sedbery, E.I.T., and Elizabeth Speare, E.I.T.

This ethical dilemma was just one of four situations for which NSPE members could test their knowledge of engineering ethics against other experienced PEs and engineering students. The contest was revamped this year to allow for more creative ways for participants to show off their ethics know-how. Contestants could choose one of four different situations dealing with the ethics of engineers, demonstrating their understanding of the facts and the NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers through an essay, video, photo essay, poster, or PowerPoint presentation.

Contestants were asked to read the facts of the case, then develop a discussion and conclusion to respond to the included question(s). They were required to provide references, citing specific sections of the NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers. Hodgson and her team will receive a certificate, recognition in PE magazine, and an award of $1,000.

The entries were judged by the following criteria:

  • Quality of the entry in form and presentation. Clarity, composition, expression, etc. are important. The essay, video, photo essay, poster, or PowerPoint should be a finished piece and “ready to go.”
  • Demonstration of understanding the implications concerning ethical or unethical behavior.
  • Comprehensive analysis of the case and arguments supporting conclusions. This may include new thoughts or other expressions.

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