To: "INTERNET:seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org" <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
Subject: EOR(Kansas City Hyatt Walkway Failure)
From: Peter Higgins <76573.2107(--nospam--at)compuserve.com>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 18:47:20 -0500
The public already has an expectation of what they expect from an engineer.
Indeed, it is codified. If you design something, you are responsible for
it. Personally, without exception. That's the hard bargain when we make
when getting an engineering license. The state isn't giving away the
exclusivity to practice engineering. It expects to get proper (and
personal) responsibility for engineering work in return.
The fact that the project lines of authority blur your control is, as the
judge quite properly ruled, irrelevant. Authority and responsibility are
inseparable. If you exercise the authority (i.e. design something and apply
your seal to it), then you had better ensure that you retain responsibility
for its proper implementation. If you don't, the public and the courts will
have no mercy.
It is up to you to either make sure it gets built right, or to remove your
permission to build it at all. If some other sod wants to continue, it's
That means keeping a firm grip on your designs. If that means doing all the
drawings, so be it. In my view this is the most practical, cost effective
way of proceeding. However, I certainly agree that there are others.
However, the current system of drawing up some pretty pictures, calling
them design intent drawings, and expecting some poor detailer to make sense
of them without further assistance is ludicrous. Anyone who thinks this
system of obfuscating control over a design relieves them of
responsibility is deluding themselves. Another (any other) judge will come
to the same conclusion as the Hyatt case.
And yes Andrea, I do practice what I preach. [To the tune of over 80,000
tons of steel designed under my seal alone last year which was a typical
year.] The jobs weren't mistake free by any means, but the procedures and
communications were in place to ensure errors were dealt with and
corrected. I simply cannot imagine trying to function under the "system"
that built the Hyatt. My license would have (quite properly) been taken
from me decades ago. And no one has accused me of wasting steel (at least
Peter Higgins, SE