Civil Engineering Seminar

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Beginning with the Fall 2020 Semester, a text will replace the previous reading materials.
This text will be a handy desktop reference for civil engineers in practice
and the text is available for purchase at TheBookPatch.com.
Students enrolled in CE-401 MAY find the full text useful
during the Seminar and as a reference for
their personal library.

The text has been 40 years in the making
as the content and approach to CE 401 has evolved
with annual changes and three major transformations in 1987, 2000, and 2018.
The final transformation to the CANVAS system was still evolving in 2020.
When the COVID-19 crisis prevented in person meetings
for the final 2 months of the Spring 2020 semester,
the transformation to CANVAS was instrumental
to a relatively seamless transition to online instruction for the balance of the Seminar,
and the time arrived to finalize the text project.

University of Kentucky regulations prohibit a Professor
from mandating his students to purchase a text authored by that Professor.
Therefore, purchase of the text is optional for students enrolled in CE 401,
and each enrolled student will
receive a weekly electronic installment
of the relevant portion of the text to facilitate participation
in the weekly discussions, quizzes, and in class conversations.

The text is available in print at TheBookPatch.com. TheBookPatch.com
will print the book on demand at the time of purchase and ship the book to you.
offers several shipping options using USPS and UPS,
and the estimated time for delivery is provided, ranging from a few days
to about 14 days depending on the method of shipment.

Purchase your copy today.

TheBookPatch.com Buy Now style 1 button

TheBookPatch.com Buy Now style 1 button



With the completion of this week's discussion topics, your journey through the non-technical aspects of engineering practice via this seminar is complete.  Thank you for your participation throughout the semester, especially over the last 2 months during which we could not gather for in person conversation that I believe enhances the overall experience because I try to emphasize certain points with emotion and intensity that simply cannot be accomplished remotely.  

I hope you understand that acting in this manner is somewhat contrary to my usual style.  I have worked to deliver this seminar to all students over the years, because I believe this experience better prepares young civil engineers for the risky journey that lies ahead for you.  To my knowledge, this experience is unique to the University of Kentucky and sets you apart from many of your peers.  While I am confident that each of you would have preferred a less rigorous experience, I am also confident that in the years ahead, you will encounter situations and circumstances that will trigger memories of this experience, with an acknowledgment that we touched on this in seminar, 

While your journey through this seminar is now complete, your personal journey into your professional career is just beginning.  I wish nothing but the best for you,  I hope you will stay in touch.  Of course, if you encounter any situation that you think I might be able to help, please do not hesitate to reach out.  If our paths cross down the path, please excuse my absentmindedness.  Just last week, I visited a project site at which three former students were there, and I did not recognize any of them.  While I wish my memory could be better in this regard, this absentmindedness has been a common occurrence in my travels.  My excuse, lol, is I only interact with you for 1-2 hours once a week for 14 to 15 weeks of 1 semester, and through 40 years, there have been approximately 4000 of you, and hopefully still counting.

I have updated the grade information this morning to include the activities of this week, and have indicated a preliminary letter grade based on the point totals.  If there remains any discrepancy in the point totals, please bring this to my attention with as much detail as possible for my review.  I would like to resolve any such discrepancies by early next week, and I will submit final grades to the Registrar by next Friday.

Richard Cheeks, PE


The Essay Teams for Spring 2020 Are Shown at this LINK:

Often, students have confusion about the
Josephson Six Pillars of Character and Ethical Decision-Making Model.
These PDFs May Help Clarify Some of These Issues

Six Pillars of Character Summary

Josephson's Ethical Decision-Making Model (Annotated)




In the administration of CE-401, Let's apply a healthy dose
of Common Sense to our deliberations and discussions,
despite reports of the passing of Common Sense.


before proceeding with the Seminar.




How to Do Things with Words - John Langshaw Austin

John L. Austin was one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century. The William James Lectures presented Austin 's conclusions in the field to which he directed his main efforts on a wide variety of philosophical problems. These talks became the classic How to Do Things with Words .







Week 15 is the final week of the Spring Semester. Each group will address all three of the questions posed, and using the regular schedule for these discussion activities.

Section 1

Section 2




Non-bold Black Font -

Student has not made a timely post in the Group's Discussion Thread for the Question, or

The Group Leader has not posted the Group's consensus in the Group's Discussion Thread for the question, with a loss of 5 points for the leader.

Bold Black Font -

Student has made a timely post in the Group's Discussion Thread for the Question or

The Group Leader has posted a timely consensus for the Group in the Group's Discussion Thread for the Question.

Red Font - Student has not made a timely post in the Group's discussion Thread for the Question with loss of points on the question:

  • Non-bold Red Font = A post occurs AFTER the deadline for initial posting has passed but BEFORE the group leader posts the group's consensus with a loss of 20% of the points for that question


  • Bold Red Font = A post occurs AFTER the leader posts the group's consensus for the question with a loss of 60% of the points for that question.


  • Non-Bold Red Italicized Font = No post occurs by the student on the question with a loss of 100% of the points for that question



Follow the links below to specific information


Links Related To Administration of CE 401



Important Information About CE-401


Discussion Question Procedures

Essay Assignment

Consensus Building

Writing Tips and Suggestions

History of CE 401


Links Related To Professions and The Professions' Role

Qualifications Based Selection (QBS)

Attributes of a Profession

Lifelong Learning

Public Policy Issues and Civil Engineering

Breaking News of Interest To Civil Engineers


Links Related To Failures and Whistle Blowing


Whistle Blowing

Nice Guys Finish Last Follow-Up: (Challenger/Alaska Pipeline/Hanford)

Whistle Blowers In The News

Engineering and Engineered Construction Failures

Hyatt Regency, Kansas City, Missouri

Other Failures


Links Related To Ethics, Ethical Duties, and Ethical Decision Making


Ethics, Ethical Decision Making:

Meet Michael Josephson

Josephson Institute Materials

ASCE's Ethics Training Materials

Other Ethics Resources

Ethics Theories and False Theories

Relevant Code of Ethics Considerations (Link Currently Inactive)

Global Principles of Professional Conduct


Links Related To Engineering Ethics Case Studies

Incident At Morales

Truesteel Affair

Gilbane Gold

Testing Water ... and Ethics (Link Currently Inactive)


Links Related To The Law, Legal Duties, and Dispute Avoidance/Resolution

The Legal System and The Law

Expert Witnesses

Tort Reform

Stella Awards

Unjust Enrichment

Loss Prevention Resources

Dispute Resolution Resources

Risk Management

Construction Jobsite Safety


I Love This Definition Of Engineer


Copyright 2005-2020 Richard Cheeks
All Rights Reserved