Society's Changing Perception of the Professional and Ethical Conduct of the Civil Engineer: 1776-1976

by James P. Kiser, Civ. Engrg. Student; Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, Oreg.,

Serial Information: Engineering Issues: Journal of Professional Activities, 1977, Vol. 103, Issue 1, Pg. 37-40

Document Type: Journal Paper


The years 1776-1976, in this country, have been characterized by the increasing dependence of society on the expertise and judgement of civil engineers. This has been forced on society because of the increasing complexity of technical decisions. Today society recognizes this situation and freely allows the civil engineer to make the narrow technical decisions, for example, what size girders are required on the southeast corner of the new office building. In the recent past, however, society has more and more frequently questioned the professional judgment of the engineer in the broader technical problems facing our country. This paper examines this somewhat paradoxical situation. The major emphasis is placed on the present day. The major driving forces behind these trends are examined.

Subject Headings: Ethics | Girders | Commercial buildings

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