Civil Engineering Seminar
(What Is A Seminar)

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Mahatma Ghandi

"In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place"

Booker T. Washington

( 1856-1915 )
"A lie doesn't become truth,
wrong doesn't become right, and
evil doesn't become good
just because it's accepted by a majority. "


Martin Luther King, Jr.

( 1929–1968 )
One may well ask, "How can you advocate breaking some laws
and obeying others?"

The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws:
there are just laws, and there are unjust laws.
I would agree with St. Augustine that "An unjust law is no law at all."

From the Birmingham Letter
(Written From Jail in 1963)


ddddd Making Ethical Decisions a v b d Recommended Practice for Expert Witnesses



If you have questions about CE-401 information,
please do not hesitate to contact me by email at:



Welcome to CE 401



Let's apply a healthy dose of Common Sense
during our deliberations and discussions
despite reports of the passing of Common Sense.


before proceeding with the Seminar.



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.

To enhance the overall experience. I try to emphasize certain points with emotion and intensity. 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.  For example, I recently visited a project site where three former students were working, and to my disappointment, 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 weeks of one semester, and through 43 years, there have been approximately 4300 of you, and hopefully still counting.

I have updated the grade information this morning to include the activities of the final 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.

The Spring 2024 Essay Teams


The following table summarizes the quiz performance
for the Spring 2024 semester
by quiz number.
The percentages at the bottom of the Table
show the average quiz scores since the use of the Text.

(This Table Will Update Following the Completion of Each Quiz During the Semester)


If you are confused about Josephson's
Six Pillars of Character or Ethical Decision-Making Model,
these PDFs may help clarify some of issues.

Six Pillars of Character Summary

Josephson's Ethical Decision-Making Model (Annotated)

Do not hesitate to bring questions
about these and other issues to my attention!



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 .





June 24, 2023
‘Leading scholar' at Harvard
accused of fabricating findings
in famous study on honesty
(You Cannot Make This Stuff Up!)



I have updated the manuscript of the text
to incorporate all ERRATA items identified
through the end of the Fall 2023 semester.

The current text, both electronic and hard copy include these updates.
However, neither the currenly available printed text
nor the individual PDF files that I will distribute
to students during the Spring 2024 semester
include any corrections or updates shown on
the current ERRATA SHEET linked above.

As you read the text material,
you may check for relevant Errata items
in the current chapter by referencing the Errata Sheet
for items in the Chapter's range of page numbers.
If your reading identifies additional errors in the manuscript,
please bring them to my attention so
I can add your finding to the Errata Sheet
for this Spring 2024 semester
and correct the manuscript for the future.
The manuscript will be revised again
following the Fall 2023 semester, probably
by the end of December 2023.

Texts purchased after December 15, 2023 will incorporate all
Errata items identified during the Fall 2023 semester.


TEXT for CE-401

"A Civil Engineer's Risky, Non-technical Journey Through Ethics, Law, and Business."
by J. Richard Cheeks

The text has been over 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 2018 transformation moved much of the content and
seminar experience to the CANVAS system,
and this transformation was only in its 4th semester
when the COVID-19 crisis prevented in person
meetings for the final 2 months of the Spring 2020 semester.

While not complete, the 2018 transformation to CANVAS allowed a relatively seamless
transition to online instruction for the balance of the Spring Semester,
and the time arrived to finalize the text project.

Since the University of Kentucky regulations prohibit a Professor
from mandating that his students purchase a text he has authored,
purchase of the text is optional for students enrolled in CE 401.

Each enrolled student will receive weekly electronic installments
of the text to facilitate participation in the weekly discussions,
quizzes, and in class conversations.

Students should note that per the Copyright,
"No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned,
or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission."
The distribution of these installments is not permission
for any recipient to violate the Copyright.

Students enrolled in CE-401 MAY find the full text useful
during the Seminar and a good addition to
a personal library
a handy desktop reference on civil engineering practice.

The text is available for purchase at TheBookPatch.com.

TheBookPatch.com Buy Now style 1 button


TheBookPatch.com Buy Now style 1 button


Follow the links below to specific information
about topics addressed during the seminar
(Please report broken links to ce-401@windstream.net)


Links Related To Administration of CE 401


Senate Rules


Important Information About CE-401 Released to All Spring 2024 Students via CANVAS on December 26, 2023

Syllabus Released to All Spring 2024 Students via CANVAS on December 26, 2023

Discussion Question Procedures Released to All Spring 2024 Students via CANVAS on December 26, 2023

Essay Assignment Released to All Spring 2024 Students via CANVAS on December 26, 2023

Consensus Building

Critical Thinking Skills

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

ASCE's 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, with 2017 National Report and 2019 Kentucky Report


Links Related To Failures and Whistle Blowing


Can Whistle Blowers Live Happily Ever After? An excellent perspective on Whistle Blowing.

Whistle-blowing and morality, Bouville This paper is very much on point with the conversations that occur in class about the diffficulties that whistle blowing decisions pose.

Rationality and Relationality in the Process of Whistleblowing: Recasting Whistleblowing Through Readings of Antigone, by Alessia Contu

RECONCEPTUALISING WHISTLEBLOWING IN A COMPLEX WORLD, by Julio Andrade This paper argues that the distinction between internal and external acts of whistleblowing may not be appropriate in today's world

Whistleblowers: risks and skills

The psychology of whistleblowing, Dunigan, et. al.

Reporting Misdeeds: An Evaluation on Intention to Blowing the Whistle, Kamarunzaman, et.al.

Whistleblowing: What Have We Learned Since the Challenger?, NSPE

Is Whistleblowing a Moral Act?, https://www.ethicssage.com/2015/07/is-whistleblowing-a-moral-act.html

Inspiring Others to Ethical Action: When to Blow the Whistle, Ostrowski, PE, ASME Committee for Ethical Standards and Review (CESR)

CHAPTER 4L WHISTLE BLOWING A Study Guide with Classroom Applications

Whistle Blowing

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

Whistleblower Retaliation and Whistleblowers In The News

Is Whistle Blowing Activity Related To Cultural Factors?



Links Related To Engineering and Engineered Construction Failures

Hyatt Regency, Kansas City, Missouri

Review of Causation Issues for Korean Shopping Mall Collapse

Other Failures


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


Ethics, Ethical Decision Making:

Meet Michael Josephson

Josephson Institute Materials

Making Ethical Decisions

ASCE's Ethics Training Materials

Other Ethics Resources

Ethics Theories and False Theories

Global Principles of Professional Conduct

Martin Luther King on Unjust/Just laws: Excerpts From MLK Jr's Birmingham Letter, written from jail in 1963

Why do Ethical People Go Beyond the Law in Decision-Making? (Mintz)

Making Sense of Ethics (Josephson)

Obstacles to Ethical Decision Making: Rationalizations (Josephson)



Links Related To Engineering Ethics Case Studies

Incident At Morales

Truesteel Affair

Gilbane Gold

Causation Factors: When is a consequence sufficiently remote from an action such that the actor is not held accountable for causing the consequence?

Testing Water ... and Ethics


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

The Standard of Care for Design Professionals

A Training Manual For Structural Engineers

The Legal System and The Law

Professional Liability Insurance/Going Bare/Coverage/Causes of Claims

How Many Lawsuits Are Filed?

Expert Witnesses

Recommended Practice for Expert Witnesses

Why Litigate?

Tort Reform

Stella Awards

Unjust Enrichment

Loss Prevention Resources

Dispute Resolution Resources

Risk Management

Construction Jobsite Safety




I Love This Definition Of Engineer


Cases With Sworn Testimony

Contact Richard

Copyright 2005-2024 Richard Cheeks
All Rights Reserved