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Electrical Engineering Ethics Cases

Thomas Mason, PE

Course Outline

Sixteen cases are presented, they are as follows:

Case 1  -  HVAC Rooftop Unit Delivered Voltage Doesn’t Match Building Electrical Voltage

Case 2  -  Choice of Copper Conductors for Building Feeder Conductors

Case 3  -  Owner Demands Hazardous Area Be Wired Without Explosion-Proof Devices

Case 4  -  Office Trailer Installed and Hooked Up in Violation of Zoning Setback Requirements

Case 5  -  Employer Accepts Contract to Build Heavy Machinery without Brake

Case 6  -  Large Consulting Firm Designs Wastewater Plant without Hazardous Buffer Spaces

Case 7  -  Large Government Agency Talks Safety But Doesn’t install NEC or OSHA required Labels

Case 8  -  Published Company Safety Policies Exclude Visitors and General Public

Case 9  -  National Construction Manager Requires all Contractors and Subs Sign Safety Policy

Case 10  -  Use of Diversity Factor in Sizing Distribution Equipment and Feeders

Case 11  -  Opening Energized Equipment for Observation or Testing

Case 12  -  Grounding 480V Feeders for New Equipment Tie-in

Case 13  -  Testing IT Panels for Overload and Documentation

Case 14  -  Surge Protection Devices at Building Entrances

Case 15  -  Applying Short-Circuit Withstand Ratings

Case 16  -  When You Learn to Fake Sincerity, You Can Achieve Anything


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

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course the student will have knowledge and insights into the following:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for engineers, supervisors architects, project managers and construction managers interested in complying with the law and participating in safe projects.

Electrical design is the vehicle and details of electrical design are included.  But content is not in any way restricted to electrical use.

There is also general information which might be of interest to most persons.

Benefit to Attendees

It is intended that persons who participate in this course will be better prepared to address technical and ethical questions that come up in their jobs.

Course Introduction

Most courses in engineering ethics discuss principles.  That is a valuable approach.  This course discusses specific instances of ethical problems faced by a real-world electrical design engineer.  The real-world outcomes are presented, but not offered as the right answers.  The purpose of the course is to help the student address the questions objectively and rationally, before he or she encounters them in an emotionally heated personal crisis.

Course Content

In this lesson, you are required to download and study the following course content in PDF format:

Electrical Engineering Ethics Cases

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

This course presented fifteen real-world cases in electrical engineering and one in the US method of selecting a President.  A rigid structure was followed to assure that questions, alternatives, decisions, consequences and analysis could be identified and would certainly be included.

Related Links and References

For additional technical information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:

National Fire Protection publication 820,
National Electrical Code (NFPA 70),
The Nuremburg principle,
The National Society of Professional Engineers Code of Ethics,
Knowledge of Nazi Attrocities,
Corporate disclosures, Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002
Employee safety under OSHA, CFR 1910.132
OSHA protection to the level of survivable burns,
Square D I-Line panels and molded case switches,
UL on surge protection devices, UL 1449, Standard for Surge Protection Devices
Internally generated transients,


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.