I chose to look at “Making Changes to the work of another Engineer”, Case No. 09-6. I chose this subject because it is something I deal with daily at work and wanted a better understanding of the issue so as to avoid ethical issues in the future.
The question presented in this Case was, “Was it unethical for Engineer A to makes minor changes to design documents prepared and revised by Engineer B without consulting?”, (NSoPE, 2010)
In this case the NSPE Board of Ethical Review did find that, “It was not ethical for Engineer A to make minor changes to design documents prepared and revised by Engineer B without conferring and gaining the approval of Engineer B.”, (NSoPE, 2010)
In my professional career, I am currently an Electromechanical Technician II and work in Engineering R&D I am responsible for cable and harness design and mechanical design work which includes documentation of the design in CAD and Altium (an electrical design program) as well as maintaining revision-controlled documents. In doing so I am answerable to my direct manager who is an Engineer as well as the Responsible Engineer on any given project, both within the Electrical and Mechanical Disciplines.
In doing my work as assigned, especially within a project, there have often been times when I have run into design conflicts with what I am trying to accomplish and what another is trying to accomplish with interacting parts in the design.
First, and I feel very strongly about this, it is not only unethical and dangerous but also rude to simply make changes to another person’s design without consulting them and presenting your findings and reaching a mutual agreement that the changes you are proposing to their design are justified and the best solution. There may be reasons they designed it that way that you do not understand.
Now, in the case that the other individual does not have the time to rework his design, they are on to another part of the project, etc., to meet a solution that you both mutually agreed upon we handle it with revision control. If the other individual designed to REV AB I would then revise it to REV AC and in the title block we capture that I am the author of the change, the responsible Engineer reviews and approves my changes and they are indicated on the title block as the approver and the dates are shown and all changes and agreements to the change are further documented, in our case we use JIRA as change control to document this work.
If there were an issue that ever arose from the design of that part, it is then clearly documented who is responsible for the design and any changes made to the design.
The bottom line however is that it is just common courtesy, when possible, to discuss any changes to another person’s work and just good practice in developing good working relationships. Respect reciprocates respect.
NSPE. (2010) Making Changes to the Work of Another Engineer, Case No. 09-6 TITLE: Making Changes to the Work of Another Engineer Case No. 09-6____________________________________________________ (nspe.org)