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Justin Conaway interviewed by Cal Poly Pomona Engineering Students

May 17, 2013
Justin Conaway

Justin Conaway

CALPOLYPJustin 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.

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