Introduction Edit

This course draws on the issues of leadership and ethics and tries to develop the students' decision making skills and thought processes. The course is broken into two main sections: Ethics and Leadership. Students are given a wide variety of information on different ethical and leadership-related ideologies, are given the opportunity to develop their own ideas and are tested upon the ability to reason and express their logic. If you have just started ELEC4122 this session (S2 20009), please consider completing Benjamin Drew's ethics survey. Benjamin is a chemical engineering student at UNSW who is writing a thesis on ethics. His thesis study aims to improve how ethics is taught at UNSW. The survey, titled 'How to teach ethics to engineers?', can be found through the ELEC4122 course page on WebCT Vista. There will be prizes awarded for some people who complete the survey.

Learning Outcomes Edit

  • Describe important aspects of the social, environmental, regulatory and organisational context of engineering.
  • Identify ethical problems in an engineering context.
  • Formulate and communicate consistent, coherent responses to such problems using formal frameworks about ethics.
  • Comprehend and critically examine ethical arguments proposed by others.
  • Explain details of an engineer’s rights and responsibilities.
  • Define technocratic decisions and some processes used to make them.
  • Use different criteria to evaluate technological innovations, including aspects of sustainability.
  • Help lead, i.e. facilitate the effective working of, a team.
  • Identify ways to reduce risks, especially those associated with human limitations.

Major Work Edit

As part of this course students are required to produce a major work which may be in a format of their choosing, subject to approval by course co-ordinators. This may take the form of any type of critical essay, of a length of about 3,000 words, an oral presentation of about 15 minutes length, a song, a game -- anything you choose.

Here is an example of an oral presentation on the ethical concerns of mobile phone technology.

Seminars Edit

As part of this course students are required to attend a 2hr seminar each week. During which students form small groups and take turns presenting ethical issues and their views on the subject. The group dictates how the time is spent in the seminar but there is usually time allocated to allow for a debate between the audience and the group presenting.

Helpful hints for surviving seminars

  1. Present the ethical issue NOT the technical aspects. The purpose of the seminar is to discuss the ethics not the technology; some background is usually required but should be glossed over. As engineers, we tend to focus on the technical areas which are outside the scope of the course.
  2. Relate the issue back to engineering. Some topics are obscure and may at first seem unrelated.
  3. Definitions: Clearly define what the ethical issues are early in the seminar. Define the topic that is being discussed. A lot of rambling debates occur because students are discussing different things due to ambiguity in the seminars presentation.
  4. Questions: Students from your audience will ask questions, but others will simply raise their hand to state their opinion. Raise your opinion through questions rather than statements.
  5. Allow for questions.
  6. Be prepared. Powerpoint presentations can be effective. If your seminar room is ill-equipped, ask your tutor to request to borrow one from the Store. Doug Davidson is the man.
  7. Present your opinion on the issue. Don't just raise the ethical concerns, formulate an ethical standpoint and argue it to the class.

Exams Edit

Two styles of questions (taken from old 4011 website).

Short Questions Edit

These require specific, limited types of answers - less than a page. Some may ask for definitions/descriptions, some for explanations and some for features of something.

Long Questions Edit

Requires you to discuss situations/scenarios/cases from the perspective of the ethics involved: what has happened, what should occur & why. In these questions, marks are given for you identifying ethical problems and arguing your responses, ie the "what should/ought to happen and why" bit. It is not a case of trying to work out the right answer. Rather, it is a case of explaining why you think something is or is not the right answer.

Ethical Frameworks Edit

Students are taught four main ethical frame works which can be used to evaluate decisions and situations.

Ethicists are also concerned with whether there are absolute moral truths, where the moral truths are unchanging regardless of culture or time.

Moral Absolutism Edit

Moral absolutism argues that there are some moral rules that are always true, that these rules can be discovered and that these rules apply to everyone.

Absolutism takes a universal view of humanity - there is one set of rules for everyone - which enables the drafting of universal rules - such as the Declaration of Human Rights.

Religious views of ethics tend to be absolutist.

Why people disagree with moral absolutism:

  • Many of us feel that the consequences of an act or the circumstances surrounding it are relevant to whether that act is good or bad.
  • Absolutism doesn't fit with respect for diversity and tradition.

Moral Relativism Edit

Moral relativists say that if you look at different cultures or different periods in history you will find that they have different moral rules.

Therefore it makes sense to say that "good" refers to the things that a particular group of people approve of.

Why people disagree with moral relativism:

  • Many of us feel that moral rules have more to them than the general agreement of a group of people - that morality is more than a super-charged form of etiquette.
  • Many of us think we can be good without conforming to all the rules of society.
  • Moral relativism has a problem with arguing against the majority view: if most people in a society agree with particular rules, that's the end of the matter. Many of the improvements in the world have come about because people opposed the prevailing ethical view - moral relativists are forced to regard such people as behaving "badly".
  • Any choice of social grouping as the foundation of ethics is bound to be arbitrary.
  • Moral relativism doesn't provide any way to deal with moral differences between societies.

Strategic Leadership Edit

Strategic Leadership provides the vision and direction for the growth and success of an organization. Managing change and ambiguity requires strategic leaders who not only provide a sense of direction, but who can also build ownership and alignment within their workgroups to implement change.

It is difficult to define a leader and/or leadership but it is agreed that a leader must posses certain characteristics to be successful. The leadership characteristics they possess influences their leadership style. Despite the multitude of leadership definitions, there are several common elements that transcend the many available definitions. Specifically, leadership involves

  • Processes and proximal outcomes that contribute to the organizational objectives. Proximal outcomes that leaders could facilitate in the pursuit of achieving organizational objectives could include developing organizational commitment among subordinates.
  • The application of non-routine influence. Non-routine influence implies that leaders must to have discretion in their actions and that their behavior should differ from influence provided through organizational routines.
  • Is contextually defined and caused. Leadership needs to be considered with respect to the context in which it is occurring. One example is examining how leadership changes across levels of the organization.

More broadly, leadership in general refers to organizing collective effort in the pursuit of solving problems facing the group. Thus, leadership includes social problem solving and setting direction in social domains, often to achieve collective action or organizational adaptation . Overall, it is important to note that leadership necessitates the presence of followers and it is inherently discretionary —without people to lead or the element of choice, leadership cannot truly be exerted.

Difference between leadership and management Edit

It is useful to distinguish between management and leadership as in recent years the terms are becoming synomous.

One clear distinction could provide the following definition:

  • Management involves power by position.
  • Leadership involves power by influence.

Abraham Zaleznik (1977), for example, delineated differences between leadership and management. He saw leaders as inspiring visionaries concerned about substance while managers he views as planners who have concerns with process. Warren Bennis (1989) further explicated a dichotomy between managers and leaders. He drew twelve distinctions between the two groups:

  • Managers administer; leaders innovate.
  • Managers ask how and when; leaders ask what and why.
  • Managers focus on systems; leaders focus on people.
  • Managers do things right; leaders do the right things.
  • Managers maintain; leaders develop.
  • Managers rely on control; leaders inspire trust.
  • Managers have short-term perspective; leaders have long-term perspective.
  • Managers accept the status-quo; leaders challenge the status-quo.
  • Managers have an eye on the bottom line; leaders have an eye on the horizon.
  • Managers imitate; leaders originate.
  • Managers emulate the classic good soldier; leaders are their own person.
  • Managers copy; leaders show originality.

Evaluating Leadership Edit

Evaluating leadership

  • Leadership effectiveness refers to the ability to influence others and achieve collective goals. Some advocate leadership success should be based on the effectiveness of the team, group, or organization. However, leadership effectiveness is more often based on the perceptions of subordinates, peers, or supervisors. Effectiveness of leadership can be influenced by factors outside the control of the leader.
  • Leadership emergence addresses whether an individual is perceived as the leader or being “leaderlike”. Emergence involves distinguishing between leaders and non-leaders and making comparisons.
  • Leadership advancement, which involves the attainment of leadership roles over a career span.

Effectiveness vs. Performance of Leadership Edit

Leadership performance refers to the expected contributions of behavior to organizational goal accomplishment . On the other hand, jleadership effectiveness refers the evaluation of the results of such performance. Effectiveness can be influenced by a variety of external factors, outside of one’s immediate control. As such, it may not be accurate to attribute the responsibility of some measures of effectiveness (e.g., total revenue) to an individual’s leadership capabilities, because it neglects to consider other external factors, such as the current economic state. Thus, when assessing performance, it is more appropriate to examine elements within the leader’s control, such as specific behaviors that facilitate collective action and goal achievement.

Innovation Edit

The term innovation means a new way of doing something. It may refer to incremental, radical, and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations. A distinction is typically made between invention, an idea made manifest, and innovation, ideas applied successfully. In many fields, something new must be substantially different to be innovative, not an insignificant change. An important distinction is normally made between invention and innovation. Invention is the first occurrence of an idea for a new product or process, while innovation is the first attempt to carry it out into practice.

Innovators Edit

Companies - R&D

R&D departments usually have two different strategies in regards to innovation.

  1. Science-push: Companies pour money into scientific research, the findings of which form the basis for new products and innovation. Typical of the 1950-60's, Bell Labs for instance
  2. Demand-pull: End-users demand new products, so companies expend money to design products to meet the new demand. More contemporary model.

A mixture of both with linkages to educational institutions, customers and other firms has proven the best strategy.

Universities & Government-Funded Research

Universities encourage research in their departments and typically own all the intellectual property that is produced. Many universities also have technology transfer offices which are founded to enhance the commericalisation research findings.

Government-funded research has seen the active investment in technology parks(like the one in redfern) and incubators. These parks are founded to create fertile hotbeds for start-ups and spin-off froms research funded by government. The promixity to universities and other scientific help establish new firms and also help university researchers implement their scientific discoveries in commercial applications.

Users - Create to suit their own needs without any market research. Users usually alter the features of existing products.

Inventors - successful inventors generally posses the following characteristics

  1. They have mastered the basic tools and operations of the field in which they invent but htey have not specialized solely on that field; instead they have pursued two or three field simultaneously, permitting them to bring different perspectives to each.
  2. They are curious and more interested in problems than solutions.
  3. They question the assumptions made in previous work in the field.
  4. They often have the sense that all knowledge is unified. They seek global solutions rather than local solutions, and are generalists by nature.

Technology Clusters

Technology Cycle Edit

Era of Ferment
  • Design Competition
  • Substitution
Dominant Design Selected
Era of Incremental Change
  • Elaboration of Dominant Design
Technological Discontinuity

Types of Innovation Edit

Product and Process Innovations: Embodies the output and effectiveness of production. Product and process innovation are interrelated with a product innovation often leading to a new process.

Radical and Incremental Innovation: Radical innovation implies a large leap from prior designs and solutions. Incremental are defined as relatively minor changes from exisiting practices. The radicalness of an innovation is sometimes defined in terms of risk. Radical innovations often embody new knowledge. Radical and incremental innovations are context specific.
Competence enhancing and Destroying Innovation: Competence hencing innovation builds upon the firms current knowledge and strength base. Whereas Competency destroying innovation does not build upon current strengths but rather makes them obsolete. Ie oil company going into battery production for cars.
Architectural Innovation and Component Innovation: Most innovation products and processes are hierarchically nested systems. Smaller innovative components are used as building blocks for an entire system. Architectural innovations can be more radical and competence destroying than component innovations. Innovation at component level usually does not affect the overall system. Innovations at the architectural level change the overall design and how the individual components interact with each other.

S-curve Edit

The development of an innovation can be best described using an s-curve. The s-curve derives from an assumption that new products are likely to have "product Life". i.e. a start-up phase, a rapid increase in revenue and eventual decline. It is this nature of innovation which infact drives innovation. As a technology matures and its potential for growth is exhausted new innovations are sort which will deliver further growth.


It is vital for companies and organisations to be aware of the technology s-curve. To ensure that resources are correctly allocated to either current or emerging technologies. If a company spends to long with an old technology it is certain that its competitors will gain an advantage using new innovations. Although many emerging technologies falter in the early stages and never are widely accepted, investing heavily in such technologies can result in business failure.

Goals of Innovation Edit

Programs of organizational innovation are typically tightly linked to organizational goals and objectives, to the business plan, and to market competitive positioning.

Innovation is most frequently driven by, according to industry surveys;

  1. Improved quality
  2. Creation of new markets
  3. Extension of the product range
  4. Reduced labour costs
  5. Improved production processes
  6. Reduced materials
  7. Reduced environmental damage
  8. Replacement of products/services
  9. Reduced energy consumption
  10. Conformance to regulations

Failure of Innovation Edit

Failure is an inevitable part of the innovation process, and most successful organisations factor in an appropriate level of risk. Perhaps it is because all organisations experience failure that many choose not to monitor the level of failure very closely. The impact of failure goes beyond the simple loss of investment. Failure can also lead to loss of morale among employees, an increase in cynicism and even higher resistance to change in the future. Innovations that fail are often potentially good ideas but have been rejected or postponed due to budgetary constraints, lack of skills or poor fit with current goals. Failures should be identified and screened out as early in the process as possible. Early screening avoids unsuitable ideas devouring scarce resources that are needed to progress more beneficial ones.

Cultural Structure causes of failure

  1. Poor Leadership
  2. Poor Organization
  3. Poor Communication
  4. Poor Empowerment
  5. Poor Knowledge Management

Common causes of failure within the innovation process in most organisations can be distilled into five types:

  1. Poor goal definition
  2. Poor alignment of actions to goals
  3. Poor participation in teams
  4. Poor monitoring of results
  5. Poor communication and access to information

Analysing Arguments Edit

Arguement: a set of statements of which it claimed that one of those statements(the conclusion)is support by the others (the premises).

Structure of Arguments Edit

a method of reasoning or deduction and

  1. Premises: A declaration intended to form the basis for an argument. ie Assumptions
  2. Method of Reasoning: Path from assumptions to conclusion
  3. Conclusion: An arguments conclusion is what the person making the argument is ultimately trying to convince you of.

Methods of Reasoning Edit

Deductive reasoning, sometimes called deductive logic, is reasoning which constructs or evaluates deductive arguments. In logic, an argument is said to be deductive whenthe truth of the conclusion is purported to follow necessarily or be a logical consequence of the premises and consequently its corresponding conditional is a necessary truth. Deductive arguments are said to be valid or invalid, never true or false. A deductive argument is valid if and only if the truth of the conclusion actually does follow necessarily (or is indeed a logical consequence of) the premises and consequently its corresponding conditional is a necessary truth. If a deductive argument is not valid it is invalid. A deductive arugment is sound if the premises are true.

  • On an engineering note, deductive logic is similar to set theory. Ie you wish to conclude an object has a certain property. First you develop a set which has that property, then that the object is part of the set, hence that object has the sets properties.
  • Example
    • People who belong to ELSOC are FUCKING AWESOME (premise)
    • Every student enrolled in EE&T degree is automatically a member of ELSOC (premise)
    • Hence all EE&T students are FUCKING AWESOME (conclusion)

Validity, An argument is valid if and only if the truth of its premises entails the truth of its conclusion, it would be self-contradictory to affirm the premises and deny the conclusion.

Soundness, An argument is sound if and only if; The argument is valid and all of its premises are true.

  • The example below demonstrates a valid argument but with a broken premise. Not all lecturers can teach, replace lecturer A with your lecturer of choice :)
    • All lecturers can teach (premise)
    • Staff member A is a lecturer (premise)
    • Hence staff member A can teach (conclusion)

Inductive logic(not the same as in math people) is reasoning using arguments in which the premises support the conclusion but do not entail it. Induction is a form of reasoning that makes generalisations based on individual instances. An inductive argument is said to be cogent(clear and logical/convincing) iff the truth of the arguments premises would render the truth of the conclusion probable and the arguments premises are in fact true. Congency can be considered inductive logics analogue to deductive logics soundness

  • Example.
    • People who attend to ELSOC bbqs are love the sausage (premise)
    • Every student enrolled in EE&T degree is automatically a member of ELSOC and most members attend bbqs (premise)
    • Hence all EE&T students love the sausage (conclusion)

Fallacy Edit

A fallacy is an argument which provides poor reasoning in support of its conclusion. Fallacies differ from other bad arguments in that many people find them psychologically persuasive. That is, people will mistakenly take a fallacious argument to provide good reasons to believe its conclusion. An argument can be fallacious whether or not its conclusion is true.

Many fallacies exist

The ones dealt with in 4122 include

Circular Arguments: where the consequence of the phenomenon is claimed to be its root cause. Chicken or the egg?

From the novel Catch 22
The archetypal Catch-22, as formulated by Heller, involves the case of John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces bombardier, who wishes to be grounded from combat flight duty. To be grounded, he must be officially evaluated by the squadron's flight surgeon and found unfit to fly, which would be an automatic diagnosis of the insanity of any willing pilot because only a mad person would take on the missions, because of the danger. But to get the diagnosis he must ask for it, and in doing so, shows he has enough sanity to try not to fly missions. The “Catch 22” is that "anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy." So pilots requesting an evaluation are not insane and therefore fit for combat duty, but those who don't ask will not be recognized because they have had no evaluation. Catch-22 ensures that no pilot can ever be grounded for being insane (even if they are).

Argument from Authority: where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative. Although argument from authority is an important part of informal reasoning, as expert testimony can provide solid foundations for arguments.

The most general structure of this argument is:
Source A says that p.
Source A is authoritative. Therefore, p is true.
Dr Skinner says that all members of ELSOC will get HDs in 4122
Skinner runs the course
All students are members of ELSOC
Hence all students get HDs (FAIL)

Ad Hominem: consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.

A (fallacious) ad hominem argument has the basic form:
Person A makes claim X
There is something objectionable about Person A
Therefore claim X is false
Dr Ambi says doing ADSP is a great idea and you will earn millions
Dr Ambi loves DSP
Therefore doing ADSP wont earn you millions

Begging the Question: in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premises. Begging the question is related to circular arguments.

The Bible says that God exists.
Everything in the bible is true because it is the word of God
Therefore God exists<- Problem being the bible says that the bible is the word of God.

Proof by example: whereby one or more examples are claimed as "proof" for a more general statement.

This fallacy has the following argument form:
I know that x, which is a member of group X, has the property P.
Therefore, all other elements of X have the property P.
I know some members of ELSOC often get drunk and make an ass of themselves
All EE&T students are ELSOC members
Therefore all EE&T students often get drunk and make asses of themselves

Good Argument Edit

Good arguments include all the necessary premises, but not more than is necessary(gives argument wider scope). They follow sound method of reason and do not fall into fallacy traps.

Example of missing premise

  • My last 4 cars were fords and they fucking rocked (premise)
  • My next ford will also fucking rock (conclusion)
  • Missing premise -> If a brand of car rocked in the past it will rock in the future

Codes of Ethics Edit

The code of ethics dealt with in 4122 is provided by Engineers Australia. It is a broad platform which is to give engineers from all disciplines guidance about how act ethically and to uphold the expectations put forward by society.

The Engineers Australia Code of Ethics establishes the standards all members are expected to adopt in regard to work habits and relationships. It outlines the three principles members are expected to uphold and nine tenets by which to abide.

The code of ethics is based upon the following shared values which both the community and IEAUS hold for their members

  • ethical behaviour;
  • competent performance;
  • innovative practice;
  • engineering excellence;
  • equality of opportunity;
  • social justice; and
  • sustainable development.

The code of ethics attempts to uphold the trust placed in engineers by society.

Cardinal Principles of the Code of Ethics Edit

These sweeping statements are the basis upon which IEAUS expects all engineers to examine ethically debatable decision. They are intended to be non-specific in order to provide a framework for the tenets to be based upon and in order for the code of ethics to remain universally applicable.

  • to respect the inherent dignity of the individual
  • to act on the basis of a well informed conscience, and
  • to act in the interest of the community.

The Tenets of the Code of Ethics: Edit

  1. Members shall place their responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of the community before their responsibility to sectional or private interests, or to other members;
  2. Members shall act with honour, integrity and dignity in order to merit the trust of the community and the profession;
  3. Members shall act only in areas of their competence and in a careful and diligent manner;
  4. Members shall act with honesty, good faith and equity and without discrimination towards all in the community;
  5. Members shall apply their skill and knowledge in the interest of their employer or client for whom they shall act with integrity without compromising any other obligation to these Tenets;
  6. Members shall, where relevant, take reasonable steps to inform themselves, their clients and employers, of the social, environmental, economic and other possible consequences which may arise from their actions;
  7. Members shall express opinions, make statements or give evidence with fairness and honesty and only on the basis of adequate knowledge;
  8. Members shall continue to develop relevant knowledge, skill and expertise throughout their careers and shall actively assist and encourage those with whom they are associated, to do likewise;
  9. Members shall not assist in or induce a breach of these Tenets and shall support those who seek to uphold them if called upon or in a position to do so.

The rest of the document details common situations and attempts to apply the tenets and cardinal principles to give more situational guidelines. The areas covered include with dealing with co-workers, clients, the community, employees, acting as an expert witness. It pretty much says be honest, up front, gracious and ethical, things people should all already aspire.

Responsibilities of Engineers Edit

Engineers are trusted by society, it is the responsibility of engineers to uphold the trust placed upon them. Generally this relates to making things safe, for the benefit of the community and respecting the environment. Engineers should go beyond "doing not evil" and attempt to do good. This is not to say do it for free, but to remember money is not the only thing that matters.

Whistle blowing Edit

A whistleblower is a person who alleges misconduct. More complex definitions may be used, but the issue is that the whistle blower usually faces reprisal. The misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations, and corruption.

Internal whistleblowers report misconduct to a fellow employee or superior within their company.

External whistleblowers report misconduct to outside persons or entities. In these cases, depending on the information's severity and nature, whistleblowers may report the misconduct to lawyers, the media, law enforcement or watchdog agencies, or other local, state, or federal agencies.

Many people do not even consider blowing the whistle, not only because of fear of retaliation, but also because of fear of losing their relationships at work and outside work.

Persecution of whistleblowers has become a serious issue in many parts of the world. Although whistleblowers are often protected under law from employer retaliation, there have been many cases where punishment for whistleblowing has occurred, such as termination, suspension, demotion, wage garnishment, and/or harsh mistreatment by other employees.

There have been numerous cases, especially in the field of engineering, where employees have noticed serious threats to the safety of the community from various projects, reported it to management which has unfortunately been unresponsive, usually under the motivation of cost or time. The engineer has then found it necessary to report the situation to an outside body which has acted upon the company, or at least the company has found out about the actions of the engineer. The company then bullies/harasses even to the extreme lengths to ensure that they cannot find alternative work at other companies for the engineer involved.

There are laws to prevent this kind of conduct but they are hard to enforce and usually require a lengthy and expensive litigation process in order to achieve anything. When the whistle blower is dealing with mutli-billion dollar companies it has proven nearly impossible to successfully file a lawsuit and win.

Although laws are in place to protect responsible employees they are also designed to protect employers from malicious ex-employees simply 'whistleblowing' as a revenge tactic. These two competing objectives often favour the company over the employee.

Recommendations from IEAUST code of ethics:

  • Make any objections to unethical practices promptly so as to avoid any misinterpretation of the motives for doing so.
  • Focus on the issues and proceed in a tactful, low- key manner to avoid unnecessary personal antagonism, which might distract attention from solving the problem.
  • Keep supervisors informed of their actions, as much as possible, both through informal discussion and formal memoranda.
  • Be accurate in their observations and claims, and keep formal records documenting relevant events.
  • Raise the problem initially through normal organisational channels.
  • Consult colleagues for advice and avoid isolation.
  • Consult with an Office Bearer nominated by the Congress of the Institution on the ethical issues involved, or with other organisations as appropriate.
  • Seek legal advice concerning potential legal liabilities.

Personal Recommendations:

After the seminar in which we watched a few videos on whistleblowing. If the companies you are screwing with are big oil, energy, car, pharma, NASA or government people don't generally want to hear about it. So if you can't fix it dimplomatically initially remain anonomous and get em that way.

Engineers & Environment Edit

These are all my opinions.

Environmental issues have a clear relation to human safety and health, therefore, the engineering profession has already committed itself to a concern for environmental protection and perhaps even improvement. For example, engineers already have an obligation to concern themselves with pollution, when it affects human health.

Environmental issues over the last 3 decades have become a continually growing concern for the community. Laws and government policies have in turn come to reflect this. The environmental movement has also transitioned from emphasizing the negatives associated with environmental degradation to focusing upon the economic benefits environmentally aware design and policies can achieve. This shift has also changed how engineers should approach the issue of environmental protection. No longer is environmental protection just a legal requirement, a requirement which was encouraged to be met at the lowest standard. Environmentally friendly design is now a selling point, marketing tool, a measure of good design. The word green and its associations with environmental sustainability has seen it turned into a buzz word and companies are trying to all cash in. Environmental design is no longer just a consideration but a requirement with many companies not only pledging clean production but also clean methods of recycling or disposal. The burden of protecting the environment is shifting to a priority for many companies.

Carbon trading schemes which are being to be introduced in market places are trying to shift the capital mentality of socialise the cost(especially enviro) and privatise the profits. Soon it will cost big polutors to do so and again engineers will be called upon not to avoid the law but to put into place effective cost cutting measures which will in fact also protect the environment

This is not to say that many companies which do not rely upon public opinion do no attempt to exploit the environment. Many companies still do, big oil, transport etc. but at least engineers involved with such industries have the backing of government policy, law and public opinion in regards to addressing environmentally contensious issues.

Standards Edit

A technical standard is an established norm or requirement. It is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices.

  • A standard specification is an explicit set of requirements for an item, material, component, system or service. It is often used to formalize the technical aspects of a procurement agreement or contract.
  • A standard test method describes a definitive procedure which produces a test result. It may involve making a careful personal observation or conducting a highly technical measurement.
  • A standard practice or procedure gives a set of instructions for performing operations or functions.
  • A standard guide is general information or options which do not require a specific course of action.
  • A standard definition is formally established terminology.
  • Standard units, in physics and applied mathematics, are commonly accepted measurements of physical quantities.


Standards ensure that interoperability and comparison between competing solutions is possible. This provides open markets where the boundary to entry is much lower (you can offer a solution which conforms to a standard rather than forcing them to adopt a new one) and resources in industry are focused towards better the solutions rather than interoperability. Standards also provide end-users with a level of safety assurance. If a product meets a safety standard it can be safely assumed by the consumer that it meets certain criteria.

Standards in general, with the exception of manatory standards, are a guide. Many standards are written to encourage innovation in design and are simply intended as a bench mark.

Process Edit

Summary of Australian Standards procedure

Standards processes are usually are colaborative effort between government, industry and if require advocacy groups.

They follow a general procedure such as

  1. Request for a Standard - A formal request must come from the community, often from an industry body or a government department. Standards Australia does not initiate a new Standard project - it responds to the requests of the public.
  2. Research is undertaken - to address the issues Is there genuine community support for the Standard? Will it improve economic efficiency? Can it show a cost benefit? Is it in our national interest?
  3. Project approved
  4. Formation of a Technical Committee - From various stake holders, the chairperson of which is external to the process and unpaid
  5. Preliminary draft - Usually prepared by one particular group from the technical committee
  6. Committee draft - most of the work is done in subcommittees and expert working groups. The Committee meets to discuss progress, co-ordinate work programs and seek to maintain consensus in the technical content of the emerging draft.
  7. Draft for public comment - This very important stage requires the draft to be published and made available to the public for two or three months.
  8. Consideration of comment - All comments from the public are considered in detail by the Committee and, if necessary, further drafting is undertaken.
  9. Draft for postal ballot - The Committee then votes on the final draft. For the Standard to be published, the ballot must demonstrate substantial agreement with no major dissenting interests.
  10. The published Standard - A final process approval is then given by the relevant Standards Sector Board on behalf of the Council of Standards Australia, and the Standard is now ready for publication.

Revision of existing Standards

All Standards need to be reviewed from time to time, as technology, knowledge and community needs change. For this reason an automatic review process exists. Major Standards and those dealing with topics continually undergoing rapid change are revised and republished within a maximum period of seven years. Most others are revised within ten years of their publication date.

Legality of Standards Edit

Standards Australia is an independent organisation and our Standards are not legal documents. However, because of their convenience and the willingness of all parties to adopt them, many of the documents are called up in Federal or State legislation, with the result that they then become mandatory. Currently about 2400 of our Standards are mandatory, however most are used voluntarily by people who value their expertise and commonsense. They are practical and don't set impossible goals. They are based on sound industrial and scientific experience. And, because they are regularly revised, they keep pace with new technologies.

During a presentation given by Prof. Spooner from EE&T he strongly encouraged engineers who are involved with design and implementation to actively seek standards information regarding their work. He went further to suggest that even though some standards are not legally binding if the work performed does become the subject of litigation, that meeting the standard will often remove the burden of proof from the engineer as to whether the solution was best practice and professionally adequate. Prof. Spooner also suggested as professional engineers we should be striving to meet and exceed guidelines set down by standards.

Standards in AustraliaEdit

Standards Australia is the countries largest non-government standards organisation. It is a not for profit organisation in which 80% of its funding comes from industry and committee members, the other 20% from government and sale of standards. Standards Australia has been around in various forms from 1922.

Standards Australia's strategic goals include:

  • Work for the Net Benefit of the Australian community;
  • Provide national leadership and public access to Standards development;
  • Represent Australia’s interests internationally;
  • Promote Standardisation;
  • Use good regulatory principles and behave legally and ethically;
  • Engage with all stakeholders;
  • Ensure balance on committees and transparency of interests;
  • Adhere to consensus and governance processes;
  • Accredit other Standards development organisations; and
  • Continuous improvement.

Internationally Edit

So many standard organisations. IEEE is often acredited with being the most stringent standard organisation, as the standards it produces are incredibly detailed.

Decision Making Edit

Decision making can be regarded as an outcome of mental processes (cognitive process) leading to the selection of a course of action among several alternatives. Every decision making process produces a final choice The output can be an action or an opinion of choice.

Risk ManagementEdit

In ideal risk management, a prioritization process is followed whereby the risks with the greatest loss and the greatest probability of occurring are handled first, and risks with lower probability of occurrence and lower loss are handled in descending order. In practice the process can be very difficult, and balancing between risks with a high probability of occurrence but lower loss versus a risk with high loss but lower probability of occurrence can often be mishandled.

The International Organization for Standardization identifies the following principles of risk management:

  • Risk management should create value.
  • Risk management should be an integral part of organizational processes.
  • Risk management should be part of decision making.
  • Risk management should explicitly address uncertainty.
  • Risk management should be systematic and structured.
  • Risk management should be based on the best available information.
  • Risk management should be tailored.
  • Risk management should take into account human factors.
  • Risk management should be transparent and inclusive.
  • Risk management should be dynamic, iterative and responsive to change.
  • Risk management should be capable of continual improvement and enhancement.

Process Edit

  1. Establishing Context - How risks are to be identified. Areas in which risk identification is important. How risks that are identified are to be dealt with.
  2. Identification - Unknown possibilities are a large concern for risk analysis.
    1. 'Source' analysis Risk sources may be internal or external to the system that is the target of risk management.
    2. Problem analysis Risks are related to identified threats.
    3. Objectives-based risk identification Organizations and project teams have objectives. Any event that may endanger achieving an objective partly or completely is identified as risk.
    4. Scenario-based risk identification In scenario analysis different scenarios are created. The scenarios may be the alternative ways to achieve an objective, or an analysis of the interaction of forces in, for example, a market or battle. Any event that triggers an undesired scenario alternative is identified as risk.
    5. Common-risk checking In several industries lists with known risks are available. Each risk in the list can be checked for application to a particular situation.
  3. Assessment - Widely accepted ->Rate of occurrence multiplied by the impact of the event equals risk. Cost benefit analysis to determine whether it is necessary to plan for possible outcome
  4. Create Risk Management Plan
    1. Avoidance (eliminate)
    2. Reduction (mitigate) - In learning outcomes needs further discussion
    3. Transfer (outsource or insure)
    4. Retention (accept and budget)
  5. Implement
  6. Review

Intellectual Property Edit

Patents Edit

Protection of an invention. A patent is a property right granted by a governing body that excludes others from producing, using, selling or importing the invention for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the nature of the invention at the time the patent is granted.

Types of patents

  1. Utility Patent - new processes, machines, manufactured item or combination of materials.
  2. Design Patent - original and ornamental design for a manufactured item.
  3. Plant Patent - new asexually reproduced variety of plant.

New patents must pass 3 tests to be patentable

  1. Must be useful
  2. Must be novel
  3. Must not be obvious

Patent law around the world in considerably different. Most countries also require that for an invention to be novel it cannot have been published. For a patent to be granted manufacturing/implementation of the idea must take place in the country in which the patent is granted.

Paris Convention for Protection of IP in 2006 harmonized the patent process between 168 in which patents which have been granted in one nation can be fast tracked in another country within in a certain period of time. This is called priority of rights, and also allows an inventor to claim rights over an invention lodged after their initial application in another country.

Patent Cooperation Treaty allows inventors to apply for a patent in multiple countries simutaneously.

Copyright Edit

Copyright is a form of protection granted to works of authorship. The rights of copyright protection can be established by legitimate use of the work. The protection is available whether or not the work is published and prevents others from producing or distributing that work.

Copyright has exclusive right to do

  • Reproduce the work in copies
  • Prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • Distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending.
  • Perform the work publicity, in the case of the literary, musical, dramatic and choreographic works, pantomimes and motion pictures and other audiovisual works.
  • Display the copyrighted work publicly
  • Perform the work public

There however limits to these rights. These include fair use for criticisim, comment, news reporting, teching, scholarship or research.

Unlike patent protection, copyright protection is secured automatically when an eligible work is created for the first time.

Trademarks Edit

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, design or other indicator that is used to distinguish the source of goods from one party from the goods of others. The rights to a trademark are establihsed in the legitimate use of the mark and do not require registration. However registration of provides several advantages.

  1. Registering the mark provides public notice of the registrant's claim of ownership over the mark.
  2. Marks must be registered before a suit can be brought before court again an infringement of the mark.
  3. Registration can be used to establish international rights over the trademark.

Trade Secrets Edit

Rather than disclose detailed information about inventions, inventors and firms can choose to protect their intellectual property by holding it as a tradesecret. Trade secrets do not have to meet stringent requirements for a patent. Information is usually only considered trade secrete iff

  1. It offers a distinct advantage to the company
  2. Remains valuable only as long as the information remains private.