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The Right Choice: Applying Life’s Priorities and Ethics to Engineering

William A. (Bill) Brant, J.D., P.E.

Course Outline

Fundamental to who you are is how you act.  Fundamental to how you act is how you think.  Fundamental to what you think and act is the first thing you do, because everything else must follow.  Fundamental to your “good life” are your Life’s Priorities and how you carry them out.  The premise of this course is if you become a better, complete person, you will become a better, ethical engineer.

I will be your coach or guide though this course.  Our course will center around Socrates’ famous quote, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Your life will be examined by you before the end of this course, so it can not be said your unexamined life is not worth living.

We start by asking ourselves what is our purpose and what are our Life’s Priorities?  Before we answer these questions some background preparation needs to be done.  We review Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid.  Maslow researched and studied human basic needs, but also looked beyond those basic needs to self-actualizers and peak-experiencers.  It is the self-actualization and peak-experiences that I want to guide you toward.

Philosophically, we define and study the “good” and the “good life.”  We study what the philosophers defined in these areas and the role of ethics.  Actually, ethics will be sprinkled throughout the course.

I must confess the first part of this course was completed some time ago and I knew I wanted to end the course taking you through your Life’s Priorities.  However, I had a difficult time going from the “good life” to your Life’s Priorities, despite the fact I had given several lectures doing just that.

While in a bookstore, I stumbled across Dale Carnegie’s HowtoStop Worrying andStartLiving.I had had his book for over twenty years, but had not really read it.  I read it in depth and discovered he was on to something.  How can you go from a “good life” philosophically to Life’s Priorities if you are stuck in worry?  Carnegie’s book was written in the 1940s and was mostly anecdotal, basically interviews with people, some famous, who talked about their worry and how they dealt with worry.

I had research for previous courses, that showed ethics (high values) reduced stress and it was my belief that ethics would reduce worry as well. 

Surprisingly, just as Dale Carnegie discovered, there appears to be a lack of information on worry.  There is a large amount of information on anxiety, some of which I share with you as part of this course.  However, I was really looking for worry (probably because I worry some myself but do not feel I fall into the different anxiety classifications). 

I was searching for a more scientific approach rather than just theories; and, I wanted something practical that I could share with you (and even take myself).  Dr. Edward Hallowell’s book on Worrywas a key source.  Moreover, Dr. Hallowell consented to allow me to reproduce for you his Worry Self-Assessment Quiz, that he developed over years of research and clinical practice, to evaluated your worry.   I believe you will find it enlightening when you take it.

Honestly, I probably spent too much time in this course on worry.  However, the statistics of how many people are affected by worry are daunting.  As a result, I probably went a tad overboard with my worry study with you before getting back to my goal to get over worry and on to your Life’s Priorities.

I believe we all can or need to control worry and I have tried to attack worry.  As a part of worry, we cover failure.  Statistics show we all fail at something some time in our lives and it is important how we react to that failure; and, if we can build upon failure to make us better.

The key goal of this course is for you to develop your own “good life,” “best life,” and set out your “Life’s Priorities.”  By doing this, you will examine your life.  You will develop a plan, identify and rank your Life’s Priorities and values, and build you own Personal Mission Statement.

The course ends with your Personal Mission Statement, but gives you the tools to carry on the rest of your life---examined.

This course includes a multiple choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the end of The Right Choice, you will learn:

Intended Audience

This course is applicable to everyone, with a slant toward engineers.

Benefit to Attendees

The course provides the tools to become a better, more complete person in your personal life and a more ethical engineer.

Course Content

The course content is in a PDF file:

The Right Choice: Applying Life’s Priorities and Ethics to Engineering.

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you still experience any difficulty in downloading or opening this file, you may need to close some applications or reboot your computer to free up some memory.

Course Summary

By applying the tools given in this course you will:

  1. Know life’s basic needs
  2. Achieve more than life’s basic needs
  3. Know the “good” and the “good life”
  4. Know the causes of worry
  5. Self-test the amount of your worry
  6. Take control of your worry
  7. Plan, identify, rank your life’s priorities and values
  8. Develop your own Personal Mission Statement

Related Links

For additional technical information related to this subject, please refer to:

The Teaching Company
Abraham Maslow background
Maslow Hierarchy of Needs  
Maslow background   
Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation
Dr. David Amen website
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D. website
Dr. Edward Hallowell website

(All websites last accessed 10/20/08)


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.