Re: ASA's "neutrality policy" and engineering ethics

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Mon Dec 05 2005 - 14:17:25 EST

What you have encountered is merely the tip of
the iceberg. There is an underlying reason for
why you aren't able to make any headway. Below
is an excerpt of what an engineering student
wrote just today. What you're up against is
quite evident to those who are informed.

"....For other students like me who are in the
College of Engineering, leftist intrusion into
our education is not always apparent. However, we
are not immune to the indoctrination once it
affects our lives in general outside of the
classroom. The extent of this problem is much
larger than I had initially expected, but thanks
to recent events I realize its severity. It is
hard to believe that I have only been at Georgia
Tech for three years, and in that short time have
seen this school take a turn for the worse. When
I came here I thought that I was going to an
institute dedicated to higher learning for math
and science, now I feel like Georgia Tech is a
bastion of anti-American and leftist propaganda."

~ Janice

At 08:46 PM 12/4/2005, Joe Carson wrote:
>In my opinion ASA's "neutrality policy" - which
>is not part of its Constitution or bylaws and
>can therefore be amended/ended at any time by a
>majority vote of its Executive Council -
>indirectly contributes to the lack of a
>collective and intentional Christian influence
>in the engineering (and science) professions. A
>lack of a Christian "salt and light" intentional
>and collective influence contributes to the
>existence and persistence of significant
>deficiencies in engineering ethics, in theory
>and implementation, which contributes to
>engineering related mishaps such as the failure of the levees in New Orleans.
>It may also contribute to civilization ending,
>at mankind's hand, via scientific and engineered
>means, during our watch. I suggest God will not
>view our faithfulness, as Christian engineers
>and scientists, kindly in such a circumstance,
>for there not being a collective and intentional
>Christian influence in the engineering and
>science professions and for our not being advocates and agents of it.
>ASA's "neutrality policy" as currently
>implemented, is in my opinion, contrary to its
>doctrinal statement, which explicitly recognizes
>it and its members stewardship
>responsibilities. I agree that ASA should be
>neutral about things as young earth creationism
>and ID - there are no significant stewardship
>implications to those issues. I disagree it
>should be neutral about issues of scientific
>integrity, including engineering ethics. But it
>is, because of its "neutrality policy" and
>because its current Constitutional objectives
>are so limited in scope. One cannot both be
>"neutral" and also be an advocate of a
>collective and intentional Christian influence
>in the engineering and science
>professions. ASA "neutrality" hinders my
>efforts, indirectly at least, to create an
>organizational vehicle for a collective and
>intentional Christian influence in the engineering profession.
>I recently wrote a letter to the members (voting
>and non-voting, as well as the two candidates)
>of the ASA Executive Council, describing my
>reasons for letting my ASA membership lapse,
>after about 15 years of association with
>ASA. Simply put, I do not think ASA is "God's
>organization" or is "seeking God's will,"
>contrary to statements made by Randy Isaac, ASA
>Executive Director at the recent ASA annual
>meeting (his speech is available as an MP3 file linked to the ASA homepage.)
>If anyone wishes a copy of the letter, send me
>an email at <>.
>The following submitted article details *some*
>(far from all!) of my concerns about engineering
>ethics (the editor limited me to about 1500 words!)
>Joe Carson
>The following article has been submitted for the
>Fall 2005 issue of the electronically
>distributed “Professional Ethics Report” of the
>Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law
>Program of American Association for the
>Advancement of the Sciences <
>>. It was solicited
>by the editor of the publication and what
>follows is likely close to what is published in next few weeks.
>Joe Carson, P.E.
>The author is a mechanical engineer with 30
>years experience in nuclear technology –
>weapons, power, and other. He has been licensed
>for over 20 years. He is a long-time active
>member of ASME, NSPE, and ANS and has held
>leadership positions in each. He belongs to
>AAAS and has twice been nominated for its
>“Scientific Freedom and Responsibility
>Award.” He has likely “prevailed” in more
>whistleblower-related litigation than any other
>federal employee and engineer in American
>history (some details are at http://
>At end of it, his reasons to sacrifice and risk
>to defend his profession and its code of ethics
>are based in a Christian worldview that informs
>him one’s work matters to God and that
>“suffering for righteousness’ sake” is not
>necessarily to be shunned. He is a co-founder
>and President of the Affiliation of Christian
>Engineers (see
> The views
>expressed are his own, including that absent
>something that does not now and, at least for
>past 150 years in America, never has existed –
>a collective and intentional Christian influence
>in the engineering profession - nothing should be expected to change.
>Is Engineering Ethics “Ethical”? Is “Engineering Ethics” at All?
>A government loses legitimacy when it is unable
>or unwilling to protect law-abiding citizens
>from criminals – the “social contract” between
>the governing and the governed becomes “null and
>void” in such a circumstance. A similar
>legitimacy issue confronts the engineering
>profession because it is unable or unwilling to
>protect its code of ethics when employers of
>engineers punish them for adhering to
>it. Leaders of the engineering profession are
>“in denial” about this basic legitimacy
>issue. The stakes are enormous, given that the
>engineering profession is arguably humankind’s
>largest and most global profession (about 20
>million degreed members worldwide), with
>essential responsibilities for the design,
>construction, operation, and maintenance of the
>“built” environment we are all so dependent upon
>for our individual and collective functioning.
>The following points are based on the author’s
>direct experiences and/or objectively verifiable facts :
>1. Codes of Engineering Ethics of major
>engineering societies, just as legally binding
>rules of professional conduct for licensed
>professional engineers (P.E.’s) contain a
>positive requirement for engineers to “blow
>whistles” when necessary to protect others.
>Additionally, they are implemented on a “strict
>honor code basis.” They explicitly require an
>engineer to report reasonable knowledge of their
>violation by others to the appropriate
>professional body, even at risk of job loss and
>lasting career damage. The “one for all”
>aspects of “social contract” the engineer has
>with his profession and society are clearly delineated.
>2.There are no corresponding “all for one”
>obligations on the profession to collectively
>protect its code of ethics, including protecting
>the engineer from employment retribution for
>adhering to his ethical obligations, making the
>social contract – i.e. engineering ethics –
>unethical and illegitimate, in the opinion of the author.
>3. State Engineering Boards exist to
>protect the public health, safety, and welfare,
>but in the author’s experience with two State
>Boards and what he has learned from others, they
>clearly state they have no obligations to
>protect the law-abiding engineer from employment
>retribution. In author’s case, they have
>repeatedly declined to join neutral friend of
>the court briefs or requests “go on record” in
>criticism of the legally established record of wrongdoing.
>4.Major engineering professional societies
>require compliance with a code of ethics as
>a condition of membership, but in the author’s
>experience and what he has learned from others,
>they demonstrate little, if any, collective
>cohesiveness to their codes of ethics when an
>ethical engineer alleges or experiences
>employment retribution. They have, in author’s
>case, repeatedly declined to join neutral friend
>of the court briefs or requests “go on record”
>in criticism of the legally established record
>of wrongdoing. NSPE’s Board of Ethical Review
>(BER) has existed for over 50 years and issued a
>number of opinions related to the “one for all”
>aspect of the social contract, making clear the
>engineer is to risk job loss and lasting career
>damage to do his duty. No once has it addressed
>what, if any, “all for one” collective
>responsibilities the profession has in such a circumstance.
>5.Only about 20% of practicing engineers in
>America are licensed and, hence, subject to the
>jurisdiction of a State Engineering Board. This
>is because industrial employers of engineers
>generally oppose mandatory licensure of their
>engineers which would make their engineers
>subject to State Board regulations. Their
>influence created the “industrial exemption”
>present in most licensure laws. Engineering
>ethics have no legal standing for non-licensed
>engineers, these engineers cannot say something
>as, “Boss, I respect you and want to please you,
>but I cannot do what you ask because I could
>lose my license, my job, and my career, please understand.”
>6.Neither can such an engineer invoke the
>“public policy exemption” to “at-will”
>employment doctrine to defend himself against
>employer retribution. By it, an employer cannot
>punish an employee it requires to be licensed
>for complying with their licensure
>requirements. (Industrial employers of
>engineers have the prerogative of waiving the
>industrial exemption and can legally require
>their engineer employees be
>licensed. Additionally, every engineer can
>waive exemptions, become licensed, and submit to
>the jurisdiction of the State Boards).
>7. State Boards of Engineering have
>reactive investigation and enforcement
>postures--no complaint, no investigation--is
>their operating procedure. As a result, in the
>author’s experience, including conversations
>with investigators from several State
>Engineering Boards, even highly publicized
>engineering-related mishaps/misconduct will not
>be investigated without a signed complaint,
>making fear of retribution a real deterrent to
>their filing (State Boards justify this as
>preventing frivolous complaints). Additionally,
>the author is unaware of any engineer ever being
>disciplined for failing to file a complaint when
>one was warranted (State Engineering Board
>regularly communicate to their licensees all
>instances of disciplinary action taken). The
>State Boards cite the “strict honor code”
>requirements of their regulations to justify
>their “no complaint, no investigation”
>posture. In author’s experience, they do not
>want to objectively consider if their “strict
>honor code” enforcement system is viable in
>protecting the public health and safety.
>8. The Columbia Space Shuttle Accident
>Investigation Board Report, in about 250 pages,
>contained over 400 expressions of some form of
>the word “engineer” and about 200 expressions of
>some form of word the “design.” Yet,
>engineering ethics and P.E. licensure were not
>mentioned as relevant considerations. So
>apparently they are not--engineering ethics just
>isn’t--as no major engineering society took any
>issue with this, despite the author’s prodding.
>9. The same is true of the joint
>US-Canadian government report on the 2003
>large-scale power black-out in the Northeast and
>the Nuclear Regulatory Commission report on the
>extraordinary amount of corrosion on the head of
>the nuclear reactor, Davis-Besse in
>Ohio. Engineering ethics and P.E. licensure got
>a “free pass,” and engineering professional
>societies took no issue in either case, despite the author’s efforts.
>10. The National Academy of Engineering
>(NAE) has issued a number of reports involving
>significant public health and safety issues in
>the Department of Energy (where author is
>employed) during the past 20 years, but none
>mention the existence or relevance of
>engineering ethics and P.E. licensure. The
>author has discussed this situation with staff
>of NAE and contributors to some of these
>reports. To author’s knowledge, NAE has yet to
>implement policy regarding compliance with
>engineering ethics and its strict honor code
>implementation basis in NAE sponsored work (if
>engineering ethics were viable, why would it even need such a policy?)
>11. The Science and Policy Directorate of
>AAAS includes the Program of Dialogue on
>Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER). The
>author has, on several occasions, suggested to
>DoSER staff and volunteer leaders that it
>explore whether religious faith, at least in
>part for some engineers (and scientists),
>motivated their selfless actions to defend and
>uphold their profession’s code of ethics. DoSER
>has yet to express an interest.
>1. Engineering professional societies should
>acknowledge that faith-based motivations are
>valid, at least in part for some of their
>members, to their efforts to uplift and defend
>the engineering profession, its code of ethics,
>and its service to society. Personally, the
>author feels demeaned that while his actions
>have been praised within the profession, his
>motivations for taking them are not acknowledged
>as valid – somehow “church-state” separation has
>morphed into a tacit position by the profession
>that religion must be deeply privatized and is
>irrelevant, in all cases, to one’s desire to
>advance and defend the public trust the profession, and its members, hold.
>2. P.E. licensure exists to protect the
>public. If there is not a clear nexus between
>P.E. licensure and public health and safety,
>then it is an illegitimate restraint on trade
>for an employer to require an engineer to be
>licensed when not required by law. If the
>major engineering professional societies will
>not make this case, no one else will. Unless
>and until engineering licensure becomes the norm
>for employment by most industrial employers, the
>engineering profession and its code of ethics
>will remain significantly hobbled.
>3. Engineering professional societies
>should adopt policies to collectively defend
>their codes of ethics when engineers allege or
>experience retribution from their employers for
>adhering to them. There should be three
>aspects: 1) file neutral friend of the court
>briefs that focus on importance to public health
>and safety of engineers compliance with
>engineering ethics in cases involving
>engineering ethics; 2) whenever an engineer is
>legally vindicated in her claims of workplace
>retribution, take strong action to de-legitimize
>the employer; that is, make it clear to the
>employer and its stakeholders that not only was
>the individual engineer offended, the
>engineering profession was offended, and the
>public health and safety were offended: and 3)
>make clear that any engineer who engages in
>workplace retribution against another engineer
>for complying with the profession’s code of
>ethics betrays the profession and its public
>trust will be subject to lifetime banishment from it.
Received on Mon Dec 5 14:19:52 2005

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