WMU News

Engineer discusses professional ethics

Nov. 12, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- In 1996, Ed Turner, city engineer for the town of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was faced with a decision about whether to follow his supervisor's orders and break the law or stand behind his own professional ethics.

Turner will discuss that dilemma and the decision he made, which ultimately resulted in several job demotions and a legal battle, when he visits Western Michigan University Thursday, Nov. 15. His presentation, titled "Responsible Charge," begins at 3 p.m. in the Putney Lecture Hall of the Fetzer Center. Co-sponsored by WMU's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the lecture is free and open to the public.

As the city engineer in Idaho Falls, a southeast Idaho community with a population of 50,000, Turner was required to sign off on city public works projects. When he refused to sign documents approving projects for which he did not have "responsible charge" or supervisory control, he was demoted twice and ultimately resigned his position. Turner then embarked on a four-year legal battle with the city of Idaho Falls and his first lawyer, which he won. That case had a significant impact in the engineering community, as Turner, who espoused public safety as a top priority, became a model for upholding professional ethics in engineering.

For more information, contact the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at (616) 387-4397.

Media contact: Scott K. Crary, 616 387-8400

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