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


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.

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