EGR 402 Writing Assignment #4
Choose 3 to 6 discussion questions from the list below OR make up your own questions. Interview someone who is working (or retired) in a supervisory, managerial, or executive capacity in a “for profit” company and ask them the questions. Minimum requirement for interviewee is 10 years experience with at last two years of supervisory experience within the last 5 years (so person could be recently retired). Please do not interview a Cal Poly Pomona professor or lecturer…they have all been interviewed too many times!Do not interview someone from a non-profit organization (e.g., church, government agency, or education sector). You may interview someone from a utility agency since many civil engineers work in that capacity (e.g., Department of Water and Power, Edison, Highway Department, etc.).
Two person assignment – Both students participate in the face-to-face interview and collaborative writing. Together the two person team will write a three page paper. (There will be one three person team and the paper will be 5 pages).
Paper number 3 is cancelled and the points will be doubled for Paper #4. In addition, this paper will also count as your final exam for Dr. Jackiw. We are attempting to integrate the case study/practical application side of the course with the philosophical aspects.
Summarize your findings in a three-page paper covering the following (roughly half devoted to each topic):
- What did you learn that was especially valuable and adds to what you already know...Do not just repeat what the person said or repeat common sense phrases (e.g., “I learned ‘safety first.’). Go deeper than that. Sometimes a person will tell you of bad experiences they had and how they learned from them. These lessons can be interesting. Depth would including giving you ideas on what to look for to forestall ethical problems or how to handle them when they occur.
- Think through the responses of the interviewee and make your best assessment as to which moral theories or framework(s) seem to characterize their decision making (e.g., utilitarian, deontological, virtue, and existentialist ethics – these will be covered by Dr. Jackiw). You should pick a few questions from the list (or make up your own) that would be helpful in inferring how the person works through moral dilemmas when they occur.Briefly explain the theory and then provide reasons and examples to show that the interviewee would correctly be characterized as you claim.
- Be prepared to share your findings in class if instructed to do so later on. Also,
36-40Thoughtful questions and analysis. Draws insight from the comments of the interviewee and relates them to their future work. Clear and logical analysis of the moral framework. Well written and not trite or superficial. Got the most out of the interview. Scores of 39-40 for exemplary papers that exhibit reflective thought as well as good analysis.
32-35Met the requirements but without any notable insight or new discoveries. Good job of reporting the results of the interview, but not very reflective.
28-31Met some of the requirements but did not show any signs of gaining insight or learning. Mostly just repeated back what was told in the interview. Little depth and too many generalities.
≤27Did not meet requirements or failed to follow instructions
Example (not a template, just an example): I asked Mr. Smith whether or not it is OK to break the chain of command. He told me a few personal stories and then gave me some advice. He felt very strongly that breaking the chain of command was not something to take lightly and he had some criteria he used to decide when it was appropriate. I learned that I need to be prepared for such situations ahead of time and, if possible, see them coming. if I am faced with a similar situation, here are some of the things I could do or should do, etc., etc….
Additional instructions: At the beginning of the paper identify the position and type of company of the person you interviewed. If they wish to remain anonymous, that is OK. You should have ample time to find someone and interview them.
EGR 402 Suggested/Modified Interview Questions
Below are some possible interview questions from the class (plus a few more). Some were modified to make them flow better. You are free to use any of these you like and make up your own. Try to have at least a 30-45 minute interview.
- Do you think that most employees are ethical?
- Have you ever felt pressured by your current or a previous employer to violate your sense of ethics?
- Under what circumstances, if any, do you think an employee should break the chain-of-command to report something they think is wrong?
- Do you currently operate under a policy that enforces work place ethics and insures the safety of employees (and customers?)?
- Have you ever experienced a moral dilemma that involved human lives or put your career at risk?
- What do you think is appropriate disciplinary action for employees that practice unethical behavior (such as signing other employee’s names on documents or revealing confidential information)?
- Should individuals within a corporate structure be help criminally liable for safety related catastrophes they are partly responsible for? (e.g., Challenger disaster, Hyatt Regency walkway collapse).
- If you were in a position to be a “whistleblower”, how would you go about protecting yourself from ruining your reputation completely?
- What is a higher priority (for you? for your company?): making profits or the safety and satisfaction of the consumer?
- Do you think that your company has a certain value they place on human life when they are making decisions regarding safety?
- Should an engineer sign off on a design they have not 100% checked personally?
- Should the chip from Nintendo 64 be sold to Middle Eastern Countries if they could use the chip to make a missile? (there are many variations of this question that present moral dilemmas)
- Knowing everything that goes on in your job, are you satisfied with the way moral and ethical situations are handled? Why or Why not.
- What is the hardest ethical decision you have ever made related to your engineering career.
- What is your opinion about how an employee should go about reporting something illegal or unsafe they see going on within a company?
- Where do you draw the line regarding how much to spend on safety?
- Is it OK to dump waste into the environment even if it is within standards or not against the law?
- Do you agree with the idea of confidential employee assistance programs for such things as substance abuse and alcoholism?
- Suppose your engineers have designed a product that has a small, but real, probability of injuring someone, but will meet regulatory requirements. How would you handle a situation like that.
- As an executive, how do you ever have to reconcile your personal moral convictions with those of your company, associates and/or employees? If so, how do you handle it?
- What advice would you give to a young professional about dating people at work or within the organization?
- What importance does your employer place on integrity and ethical behavior in evaluating new employees?
- How does your company evaluate applicants to assess their integrity?
- Do you think it is OK for a Professional Engineer to be a member of a union? Why or why not?
- What advice would you give to a young professional about how to handle a situation where they believe they are asked to do something they feel is immoral, unsafe, or illegal?