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E – 1869 Engineering Ethics: “Avoid Deceptive Acts” and the Case of MacArthur Maze Fire Collapse

Intended Audience: All Engineers
Credits: 2 PDH Units

0 STUDENTS ENROLLED

    At 3:42 AM on April 29th, 2007 a tanker truck overturned on the MacArthur Maze elevated freeway connectors in Oakland, California and started a fire. The fire resulted in the collapse of two spans of the freeway.

    Steel and reinforced concrete bridges and overpasses are vulnerable to fires caused by many events such as car fires, tanker truck accidents, wildfires, arson, or a terror act. The first part of the course discusses fire effects on bridges with the steel superstructure and steel, reinforced concrete, or composite piers and how such bridges are protected against fire effects. The second part of the course focuses on engineering ethics and shows that the 3rd Canon of the NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers, which states that “Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner, ” and the 5th Canon, which states that “Engineers shall avoid deceptive acts” appears to have been grossly violated during the construction of the replacement spans.

    References and Recommended Further Readings:

    1. (2009). LRFD bridge design specifications, AASHTO, Washington, DC.
    2. Astaneh-Asl, A. (2011). “Reconnaissance of Collapsed MacArthur Maze Elevated Freeway and Collection of Perishable Data” Report number UCB/CEE-STEEL-2011/01, Department of Civil and Env. Engineering, Univ. of California, Berkeley.
    3. Astaneh-Asl A., Noble C.R., Son J., Wemhoff A.P., ThomasM.P., McMichael L.D., 2009. Fire Protection of SteelBridges and the Case of the MacArthur Maze Fire Collapse. Proc. of the 2009 ASCE Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering Conference (TCLEE09), Oakland, June 2009
    4. Eric Simons (2007). “Bureaucratic Maze, Collapsed Freeway is just the beginning,” California Magazine, Cal Alumni Association, Sept/Oct.
    5. System Administrator (2007). “Why bridges fail.”  The Engineer, U.K.,
    6. Garlock, I. Paya-Zaforteza, L. Gu, V. Kodur. “Fire hazard in bridges: review, assessment and repair strategies.” Engineering Structures 35, pp. 89–98, 2012.
    7. Code of Ethics of National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).
    8. NSPE Ethics Guide .
    9. ASCE Code of Ethics
    10. Ethics, Technology, and Engineering, a textbook by Ibo van de Poel and Lambèr Royakkers, Wily-Blackwell, 2011.

    Learning Objectives:

    At the successful conclusion of this course, you will learn the following knowledge and skills:

    • How fires affect steel bridges.
    • What are the concepts and types of fire protection used to prevent the fire collapse of bridge spans.
    • The fire hazard in steel bridges.
    • The case of fire collapse of Mac Arthur Maze spans.
    • Canon 3 of the NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers, which states that “Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner. ”
    • Canon 5 of the NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers, which states that “Engineers shall avoid deceptive acts.”
    • How it appears that the Canons 3 and 5 above have been grossly violated during the construction of the replacement spans.

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