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Ethical Issues from the St. Francis Dam Failure

J. Paul Guyer, P.E., R.A., Fellow ASCE, Fellow AEI

Course Outline


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 conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for engineers, architects and other design and construction professionals wanting to learn about the ethical issues that were raised by the failure of the St. Francis Dam, and lessons that have been learned from the incident.  Although this was a civil engineering incident, the ethical issues and lessons apply to all engineering disciplines.

Benefit for Attendee

This course will give engineers and others an ethical framework within which to address many complex engineering projects that challenge the limits of engineering theoretical knowledge and experience.

Course Introduction

This is a discussion of issues in ethics in a civil engineering project, but it has application in all engineering disciplines and fields of practice.

About Course Author

Paul Guyer is a registered mechanical engineer, civil engineer, fire protection engineer and architect with over 35 years experience in the design of buildings and related infrastructure.  For an additional 9 years he was a senior-level advisor to the California Legislature on infrastructure and capital outlay issues.  He has designed and supervised the design of hundreds of construction projects requiring the preparation of detailed working drawings and specifications for federal, state and local public agencies and private companies.  He is a graduate of Stanford University and has held numerous national, state and local positions with the American Society of Civil Engineers and National Society of Professional Engineers.

Course Content

You need to view and study the following materials for this course:

1. Ethical Issues from the St. Francis Dam Fail (slides handout in PDF, 17 pages, 3.6 MB)
2. Ethical Issues from the St. Francis Dam Fail (video) (Request the link to video)

 Course Summary

This course will give engineers and others an insight into the lessons that can be learned from failure of the St. Francis Dam in 1928 in southern California.


You need to print the quiz questions prior to viewing the videos. At the end of the viewing, you must complete the quiz and submit your answers online to obtain your 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.