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December 6th Meeting: "The Cost of Ethical Engineering: Free Market vs. Paternalism Principles"

posted Nov 22, 2016, 6:50 PM by robert miller   [ updated Nov 22, 2016, 6:54 PM ]
Presented by Troy S. Brown

**Receive 1.0 Professional Development Hours**
Satisfies 1.0 PDH for required Maryland Standards of Practice of Care

Topic Description:
When one hires an engineer, one assumes that a highly skilled and licensed professional has been retained. Should such an assumption be made? Contracting for services is often a bilateral agreement. In other words, there is typically an agreement between the consumer of said services and the Engineer, the provider of said services. Indeed, engineers, like many classes of professions, are expected to abide by their licensing state’s code of ethics and the ASCE Code of Ethics. The failure to abide by that code of ethics can result in reprimand, suspension, fines, or even revocation of one’s license to practice. In assessing the Advisory Opinions of many states, one of the most common violations is engaging in the unauthorized practice of engineering.

The sheer volume of such violations beckons the question: Beyond the mutual promises made between these two parties, and the right to redress for legally culpable acts of the Engineer, does it matter, from an ethical perspective, if unlicensed “Engineers” provide engineering services? From one perspective, we as a society want to protect the justified and reasonable expectations of the contracting parties. One the other hand, society has an interest in ensuring minimum safety requirements for services provided by engineers. Sometimes these tensions can be harmonized, but as the provision of services becomes a matter of interstate commerce, these tensions become rather difficult to resolve.

This is a presentation on the interaction and tensions between professional ethics and contract theory. In economics, contract theory studies how actors construct contractual arrangements, generally in the presence of asymmetric information, varying levels of agency, and complex incentives. The presentation will use several scenarios to illustrate the tensions between professional ethics and contract theory, and will facilitate discussion of four (4) questions: (1) is an ethical system or free-market system “better” for ensuring safety?; if an ethical system is “better,” should it be state or federally based?; (3) regardless of which system is “better,” what should the state’s role be in ensuring safety and competence?; and (4) what is the engineer’s role in protecting the integrity of the profession?

Presenter Bio:
Troy S. Brown is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Brown graduated summa cum laude from Morgan State University in 1999, where he earned a B.A. in political science. Mr. Brown earned his J.D. in 2003 from Harvard Law School, and his masters in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Mr. Brown is a practicing attorney and currently works with the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and was an associate professor of law at Michigan State University College of Law and a visiting professor at Vytautas Magnus University Law School, where he taught Professional Responsibility and Conflict of Laws. Mr. Brown was also an associate at McGuireWoods, LLP, in Atlanta, Georgia where he practiced intellectual property and complex commercial litigation and represented franchisers, Fortune 500 companies, and major financial institutions in a broad range of litigation matters. He is a member of several professional legal groups including the American Bar Association and the Gate City Bar American. Professor Brown's research interests lie in governmental responses to crises, law and policy, and law and economics. 

Evening Schedule:
Event Date: Tuesday, December 6th  
6:00 – 7:00 PM: Registration/Deli Buffet/Open Bar
7:00 – 8:00 PM: SEI Announcements and Presentation
8:00 – 8:15 PM: Q&A and Closing Remarks

Cost for this Event:
SEI-MD Member from Sponsored firm = $25
Non-member from sponsored firm = $30
Dues Paying SEI-MD Member from non-sponsored firm = $40
Non-member from non-sponsored firm = $45
Full-Time Students = FREE
Event Location:
The Engineers Society Of Baltimore (ESB)
Garrett-Jacobs Mansion
11 West Mount Vernon Place
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Event Details:
(1) PDH awarded with attendance.
RSVP via Web Link to Sign-up Form 
Reservations will be considered firm and billed unless cancelled by no later than Friday noon prior to event.
Billing for late canceled reservations will be billed at the highest rate.
Checks or cash payable at the door. Checks payable to: “ASCE Maryland Section”.  Add a note indicating “November SEI Meeting” in the memo spot on the check.
Credit card payment also available via PayPal.
ESB Dress Code: Jacket required, Tie optional.