Gilbane Gold
Staff posted on October 24, 2006 |
Gilbane Gold

Student Handout

A Video Case Study Produced By
And Used With Permission Of
The National Institute For Engineering Ethics,
National Society Of Professional Engineers

June, 1992

Additional Case Materials
Provided and Prepared in the Departments
of Philosophy and Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M University

NSF Grant Number DIR-9012252

The videotape, "Gilbane Gold," presents a hypothetical case involving a young engineer, David Jackson, who faces a problem posed by discharges from his plant, Z CORP, which is located in the town of Gilbane. You will not experience the challenge posed by the tape if you take the position of an external judge and determine what David "should have done." Instead, try to put yourself in the position of David and ask yourself what you would do in this situation, realizing that your job is probably on the line.

Here is a list of other characters and organizations in the videotape:

Z CORP is a computer components manufacturer which discharges wastewater containing small amounts of lead and arsenic into the city sewer system.

Diane Collins is the Z CORP vice president in charge of the Gilbane plant. She is the only link between the plant and corporate headquarters.

Frank Seeders, an engineer, is in charge of the plant operations.

Phil Port is the chief environmental officer for Z CORP.

David Jackson, as a registered professional engineer, is responsible for signing plant discharge reports and keeping the plant in compliance with regulations.

Dan Martin is a lawyer for Z CORP.

Tom Richards is an environmental engineering consultant who was dismissed by Z CORP for advocating the use of newer and more sensitive tests which show that Z CORP is often not in compliance with the standards for heavy-metals emissions.

Lloyd Bremen, former state commissioner of environmental protection, is a retired farmer who uses Gilbane Gold on his ranch. Though he oversaw the enforcement of the regulations designed to protect Gilbane Gold from contamination, he now believes they may be too weak.

Dr. Winslow Massin is professor emeritus at Hanover University School of Engineering.

Maria Renato is a TV reporter who narrates the coverage of the controversy over Gilbane Gold.

Questions for Discussion
In this case you have been asked to assume the role of David Jackson and ask yourself what you would do in his situation. The following questions are directed to you in your role as David Jackson.

1. Does the presentation of the case by Maria Renato affect the decision made by David Jackson?

2. In what ways does the fact that David's boss is not an engineer affect David's actions?

3. Does Prof. Massin add any insight into what actions David should perform? That is, would you look to a former professor to help you deal with an ethical issue?

4. If you were David would you look to your professional society for advice on how to handle the situation?

5. The plant manager is presented with conflicting reports from her employees. How could David have presented his concerns more effectively to the plant manager?

6. Do you think Z CORP is "poisoning" the soil at present levels of discharge? What about a 500% increase?

7. Do you think David is deceiving the city if he does not reveal the results of the new test? Regardless of whether he is deceiving the city, is failing to reveal the results of the new test justified?

8. Do you think Diane's actions are unfair to David?

9. Do you think the city is treating Z CORP unfairly? Should it bear some of the expense of complying with its strict effluent standards?

10. Do the actions of the ex-consultant Tom Richards seem in any way to have ulterior motives?

11. Does David have any other options that he did not consider?

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