Justin Conaway VP|GM of Terra-Petra was recently interviewed by Cal Poly Pomona engineering students on issues of ethics in the engineering world. Andrew Alvarran, a Civil Engineering senior with an emphasis in environmental engineering, was part of a group of three upper-division engineering students assigned with interviewing someone working in the private industry in a supervisory, managerial or executive capacity. Andrew has assisted Terra-Petra since November of 2012 and recognized Justin as a perfect candidate for such an interview. The assignment was part of the curriculum for Cal Poly’s Spring 2013 EGR 402 Class – Ethical Considerations in Technology and Applied Science, instructed by Professor Prof. W. Dixon Davis, PE, CMfgE. Along with Andrew the interviewers included David Zimmerman, a senior Mechanical Engineering Major, and Anthony Spinelli, a senior Industrial Engineering Major.
Specifically, the assignment entailed choosing from a list of questions about ethical and moral issues within an engineering workplace and having a twenty to thirty minute face-to-face interview with an experienced professional meeting the previously mentioned requirements. After the interview, the students were to summarize information that was both new and valuable to the group in a two-page paper. Justin readily provided such information and responses to the questions asked.
A specific question presented to Justin was: “Do you think that your company has a certain value they place on human life when they are making decisions about safety?” In short, his response can be concluded as “absolutely.” Justin placed special emphasis on the value of the safety of Terra-Petra’s inspectors, who often encounter hazardous situations in construction environments. Justin made it clear that if an inspector should feel unsafe or uncomfortable in the field, Terra-Petra fully supports the decision of the inspector to discontinue working until the hazardous situation has been resolved. Justin stated that if inspectors, and in some cases even installers, find themselves lacking any safety equipment, Terra-Petra would be ready to supply the equipment necessary to complete a project safely. Clearly, the value of a human life, even of those not so closely affiliated with Terra-Petra, is not something the company is willing to jeopardize. The engineering students found this to be one of the most important ethical lessons learned during the interview.
“Should individuals within a corporate structure be held criminally liable for safety related catastrophes they are partly responsible for?”
This was also one of the questions the group from Cal Poly decided to ask Justin. Thankfully, Terra-Petra has yet to be involved in a catastrophe. Nonetheless Justin did provide some valuable insight. He explained that the level to which someone should be held liable should correspond to their level of responsibility. In some cases it may be a lack of coordination, which can be prevented with a system of checks and balances to make sure that guidelines and requirements are being met. Justin went on to say that if legal action is required, the accused individual should be sought after in a civil, and not in a criminal suit. Pursuing a civil action would require that the person suffer only as much as is required to fix the wrongdoing, rather than actually being punished. The level of action required by the law depends on the extent of involvement of an individual as well as the intent of the individual. Justin further stated that Terra-Petra has faith in the intentions and responsibilities of others when working with all of its clients.
Overall, the three engineering students from Cal Poly gathered valuable information from the interview which can surely be applied elsewhere besides the assignment they were issued. Terra-Petra believes that working with moral standards and within the law will ensure the company’s longevity. It is safe to say that clients working with Terra-Petra will always be good hands—under ethically and morally responsible management.
We are a very proud to sponsor of the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles!
IVCLA played a big part in our introduction to our newest clients in China.
Terra-Petra has been contracted to Design and Construct a Subslab Depressurization System to address Perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination at an existing building in Carson , California.
According to Wikipedia, “Like many chlorinated hydrocarbons, PCE is a central nervous system depressant and inhaling its vapors (particularly in closed, poorly ventilated areas) can cause dizziness, headache, sleepiness, confusion, nausea, difficulty in speaking and walking, unconsciousness, and death. After repeated or extended skin contact, PCE may dissolve fats from the skin, resulting in severe skin irritation in work environments where people have been exposed to high concentrations.”
We recently conducted diagnostic testing of the air flow characteristics beneath the existing building for the design and installation of this subslab Depressurization System to mitigate against the PCE contamination.
As stated in the Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC) Vapor Intrusion Mitigation Advisory (VIMA), “The air flow characteristics and capacity of the material(s) beneath the slab should be quantitatively determined by diagnostic testing, a procedure analogous to conducting a soil vapor extraction pilot test. This is an important step in the SSD design process, and should always be performed prior to the design and installation of an SD system. The objective of diagnostic testing is to investigate and evaluate the development of a negative pressure field, via induced air flow beneath the existing building slab.”
We’re currently finalizing our design and will be constructing the SSD system by the middle of the month (May 2013).
We were recently invited to take part in a significant project in China that involves “transforming 28 major cities” in various locations throughout the country. This transformation involves building new infrastructure to bring the lower end cities up to par with the larger cities. Terra-Petra has been asked to take a look at participating on some of the environmental projects that will be taking place within the smaller cities.
Terra-Petra’s President, Kevin Buchanan, along with other participants from other engineering firms, spent seven days touring through three cities that are going to go through this transformation. The projects are driven by the new government leaders that are in now place and naturally the money is in place to fund these projects.
Buchanan spent the last few days in closing meetings to discuss these projects in detail, and how we may be able to take part and provide value and service. It was a very exciting trip, and we met many talented people who will be directly involved with managing these projects. Next steps for Terra-Petra will be determined this July or August.
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