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Professional Engineers - Ethical conflicts with military requirements?

Navy_Pete

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Unsure if this is the correct forum for this topic, but was unable to find any threads specifically about the ethics side of it.

I am currently in the position to qualify for the P.Eng.  However, I've already been in numerous situations where poor technical decisions have resulted in 'near misses' that have put sailors in harms way unnecessarily while I was going through the training system.  I'm concerned if I do I may end up in a situation where the P.Eng ethics directly conflict with military requirements.

I fully expect to continue to get in trouble for calling people on their BS (ie making assumptions but never verifying them, and not revisiting the decision once the assumption was shown to be wrong, or issuing safety certificates without making any effort to check known defects were corrected), but not sure if that if I get my P.Eng, does this create any additional complications wrt reporting things to civilian authorities.

Some of it may relate to poor practice (like running kit until it completely fails, because you don't get a replacement otherwise, or making decisions first then validating them after the fact using crap assumptions while ignoring other things), but generally unimpressed by the lack of application of 'best engineering practice' or even basic decision making, as well as the lack of basic competence of some of my peers.

Has anyone dealt with this issue in the military or otherwise?

In a related note, can anyone offer advice on how to best approach a scenario like this, where operational CoC requirements conflict with the technical requirements from the related engineering branch (CFTOs etc).  Aside from the obvious career impacts, don't think it helps anyone to get fired from a position and hope I'm not replaced with a yes man rather then try and manage a bad idea as safely as possible and mitigate where possible.
 

Jed

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Navy_Pete said:
Unsure if this is the correct forum for this topic, but was unable to find any threads specifically about the ethics side of it.

I am currently in the position to qualify for the P.Eng.  However, I've already been in numerous situations where poor technical decisions have resulted in 'near misses' that have put sailors in harms way unnecessarily while I was going through the training system.  I'm concerned if I do I may end up in a situation where the P.Eng ethics directly conflict with military requirements.I fully expect to continue to get in trouble for calling people on their BS (ie making assumptions but never verifying them, and not revisiting the decision once the assumption was shown to be wrong, or issuing safety certificates without making any effort to check known defects were corrected), but not sure if that if I get my P.Eng, does this create any additional complications wrt reporting things to civilian authorities.

Some of it may relate to poor practice (like running kit until it completely fails, because you don't get a replacement otherwise, or making decisions first then validating them after the fact using crap assumptions while ignoring other things), but generally unimpressed by the lack of application of 'best engineering practice' or even basic decision making, as well as the lack of basic competence of some of my peers.

Has anyone dealt with this issue in the military or otherwise?

In a related note, can anyone offer advice on how to best approach a scenario like this, where operational CoC requirements conflict with the technical requirements from the related engineering branch (CFTOs etc).  Aside from the obvious career impacts, don't think it helps anyone to get fired from a position and hope I'm not replaced with a yes man rather then try and manage a bad idea as safely as possible and mitigate where possible.

I think you are in danger of taking things far to seriously, lad.
  ;)
 

Pat in Halifax

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I started to respond to this but stopped myself thinking maybe I was off base. You must remember that you are sailing on a warship, not a Laker, not a Container ship, not even a Coast Guard vessel. The term 'best engineering practise' is most definitely used day to day. Safety is always paramount but there are so many equipment redundancies built in that yes, we generally do run failing equipment until it...fails. The equipment is ridden hard, is flashed and shut down well outside the intended operating envelope but the bottom line remains. I am not sure which engineering side of the house you work in but have a look in the respective chapter of SSOs and SEMS for your discipline and class respectively. I think you will see terms like efficiency, safety, optimum and redundancy quite a bit. I have heard this before from TC qual'd engineers but once they settle in, they understand a little better the unique demands on the people and the equipment. Very few civilian plants pack so much horsepower with related ancillaries and auxiliaries into such tight spaces; It is inherently dangerous.

Pat
 

Edward Campbell

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I assume you are a MARE officer. I worked with several during my career, many (most?) were PEng qualified or certified, or whatever the right word is, but that didn't matter because they derived their engineering authority from the position they occupied. It wouldn't have mattered, for example, if the Director of Combat System Engineering had only a degree in basket weaving, his position, as DCSE came with the authority to decide and direct on the "best" naval combat system solution for the CF. It matters a lot, though, if you leave the CF and decide to work for one of our contractors. Then the CF may insist that anyone doing certain tasks have specific qualifications or certifications, like a PEng.

Please note that I am not an engineer, although I was a senior officer in an engineering branch and the officers in my directorate were all engineers, including one MARE officer.
 

SeaKingTacco

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I'm not sure where the ethical dilemma is, either.

If you are the EO on a ship, and the Captain tells you to do something that will most likely result in death, injury or destruction of equipment, it is your duty to advise him of the consequences. If he persists, keep in mind that it is a warship, he signed for it, and that he may have a very good reason for doing what he is doing and he will answer to his boss for any consequences.

I don't see how this conflicts with any P Eng stuff you are doing- which is entirely secondary to your military duties, BTW.
 

Navy_Pete

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SeaKingTacco said:
I'm not sure where the ethical dilemma is, either.

If you are the EO on a ship, and the Captain tells you to do something that will most likely result in death, injury or destruction of equipment, it is your duty to advise him of the consequences. If he persists, keep in mind that it is a warship, he signed for it, and that he may have a very good reason for doing what he is doing and he will answer to his boss for any consequences.

I don't see how this conflicts with any P Eng stuff you are doing- which is entirely secondary to your military duties, BTW.
Pat in Halifax said:
I started to respond to this but stopped myself thinking maybe I was off base. You must remember that you are sailing on a warship, not a Laker, not a Container ship, not even a Coast Guard vessel. The term 'best engineering practise' is most definitely used day to day. Safety is always paramount but there are so many equipment redundancies built in that yes, we generally do run failing equipment until it...fails. The equipment is ridden hard, is flashed and shut down well outside the intended operating envelope but the bottom line remains. I am not sure which engineering side of the house you work in but have a look in the respective chapter of SSOs and SEMS for your discipline and class respectively. I think you will see terms like efficiency, safety, optimum and redundancy quite a bit. I have heard this before from TC qual'd engineers but once they settle in, they understand a little better the unique demands on the people and the equipment. Very few civilian plants pack so much horsepower with related ancillaries and auxiliaries into such tight spaces; It is inherently dangerous.

Pat

Thanks Pat, I don't actually have any related civilian experience.  Apologies, I should have specified I was a MARE.  I get that the equipment is ridden hard and put away wet, and generally the design and built in redundancies and safeties will keep things from going pear shaped.  I guess my concern is based in what I saw and continue to see on the 280s, where for numerous reasons including all the resource cuts a lot of those redundancies are gone/reduced to a minimum, and the equipment is well past it's best before date.  In my little over a year of sea time between the 20 months of phase 6 and AHOD, I saw at least three occasions where we were very, very close to a main machinery space fire, down to the last working generator a few times (Murphy's law, always in a really bad storm a few days from anywhere) and generally careening from disaster to disaster.

And that was on an HR ship, which had a lot of support and priority from the FMFs.  Seeing what kind of support they are getting now with the competing priorities, can't see how it'll be any better.

I guess what specifically prompted this question was the shift to 'Naval Materiel Assurance' which will eventually lead to a number of certificates being issued for a number of safety areas.  But unlike the civilian equivalents, there are no real consequences for not following it (pulling insurance, revoking certificates, fines, etc).  So on one hand there is the operational side and their priorities, and then there are these entire set of orders and directives (NEM, NaMMS, etc) for the sea nerds to follow.  But as it stands, you can more or less ignore them with impunity until something goes wrong.

I guess the P.Eng has nothing really to do with it, but not sure anymore how to handle conflicts between the operational vs technical requirements when it comes to the certification side of things.  Probably actually easier when you're a HOD as the lines of responsibility are clear and that's what all the training is focused on, but things are getting blurrier in the 2nd and 3rd line support roles with the overlapping authorities and the lack of real guidance or training for these new policies we're supposed to follow.

Fully understand the P.Eng really has no value while in the military.  But lately as I've been frequently frustrated/embarassed by the quality of work and decisions being made by some of my peers, think it might be time to start looking at doing something different. Maybe a good indication that it is time to move on, or could just be a bad quarter.  Bad enough to try and figure out how to absorb all the budget cuts and further shave the ice cube chip without having to run around fixing the mistakes of others.

I don't know...  [/end rant].  Apologies for not making sense; not really sure what I'm actually trying to get at.  :nevermind:

Think I might just track down a friend whose opinion I respect and try and go over it with a few beers.  Might not get anywhere but at least it'll be in good company.

Pete






 

Pat in Halifax

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A relatively new thing, ships have to report that all PM on critical equipment is completed-This is reported to F3 Eng and N37. IF specified critical maintenance (What was deemed critical was built from a matrix over the last couple years) is not done, risk assessments must be done explaining why it is not done and what the ship plans to do should a problem like what you speak of happen. I sailed on steamers in their waning days and I know that there were many questions raised on equipment breakdowns-I remember for example doing over half a NATO deployment with one boiler (the other down HARD with major leaks) - We made it. Its a rough go on IRO, ALG and ATH right now and things wont improve. The tanker is going thru similar things. All I can tell you is that a ship wont be sent out if there is a hint of a possibility of danger to the crew (over and above acceptable amounts) and after the PRE tow-in fiasco about 5 years ago, we are a little more cautious.
All of us can only do our best and provide Command with honest up front assessments and risks while doing our best to meet Commander's intent. Like I used to tell trainees at the School, bottom line, the (MS) Engineering Dep't's job is quite simple: "Obey Telegraphs". By all means though, have a few beers-As Homer Simpson says "Beer; The cause of and solution to, all life's problems!"

Pat

And I could be wrong but is it not now MSEng vice MARE?
 

Scott

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I am pretty sure this was discussed here before, with same answers. FWIW, if you wish to search in depth for it.
 

donaldk

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I am an EO and currently have paperwork in to get my PEng through APENS.  Just got back home from IRO after a OOD duty and today with a heavy night with load banks.  Below post is vague to keep OPSEC out.

First, the PEng is a provincial designation and does not affect internal federal government operations (for the most part) as the federal government does not answer to provincial authority.  Go to Engineers Canada and you will see explicit clauses omitting CF members from being accountable to the Provincial.

Second, the CF is excluded from many provincial and federal acts wrt labour and safety codes wrt to its own operations.  However, the CF put in place regulations which do either match/exceed their civilian counterparts, or have appropriate risk factors built in (i.e. specific training is given) which satisfies the due diligence requirements.  Obviously there are acts which the CF is not provided exemptions from (example is environment acts like Fisheries Act, CEPA, etc), however the CF still monitors/enforces its own compliance measures and in my example Environment Canada expects this and audits it to ensure alignment with their policies.

Third, yes contractors will have outside regulations to follow. It is my duty to accommodate where possible or we can't have contractors do the work and have to take other measures.

There were a couple things done during the engineering trials tonight that in a general civilian environment would have broken a hole slew of CLC,NEC, and APENS regulations, however since this is a DND internal affair, trials proceeded after VERY carefully controlled measures were put in place IAW with CFTOs.  Why was this done, because the ship has Admiral's orders to follow and be ready to proceed to station (FLTSCHED).  A warship is a weapon and is inherently dangerous at all time, which is why we receive the training we get!

I am off to bed now...
 

cupper

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The reference that you are looking for is within the Engineering Profession Act (or whatever it is called in the appropriate province).

PERSONS EXEMPTED

Act does not apply

10 This Act shall not apply to any person

(a) while a member of and on duty with any branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces;

(b) while waiting decision of the Council on his application for membership or for a licence to practise after having filed the credentials provided for by Sections 7 or 8;

(c) while applying engineering to a project on his own property for the sole use of his domestic establishment, or elsewhere to a project of a value not exceeding five thousand dollars, where in either case that engineering in the opinion of the Council does not involve safety of other persons;

(d) who holds a certificate of competency as a mine manager pursuant to the Coal Mines Regulation Act and is engaged in coal mining operations. R.S., c. 148, s. 10.

It is not a federal vs provincial powers issue as Donaldk pointed out. Is is simply put, a matter of the legislation expressly exempting members of the CF in the performance of their duties. Employees of other government agencies are not exempt form the Act, and are bound by the regulations of the Provincial Associations, regardless of the work being internal to the Federal Government.

If you were to practice "professional engineering" as defined by the act outside of your duties as a member of the CF, then you would be bound by the Act, and as such, bound by the regulations of the Provincial Association in the province where said "professional engineering" took place.
 
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