Professional Course

Engineering Ethics: Citicorp Center - The Engineering Disaster That Didn't Happen

PDHengineer, Online
1 hour
30 USD
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Self-paced Online
1 hour
30 USD
Next course start
Start anytime! See details
Self-paced Online
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Course description

engineer in tunnel

In Engineering Ethics: Citicorp Center - The Engineering Disaster That Didn't Happen, you'll learn ...

  • How an engineering student potentially saved thousands of lives by discovering a design flaw in New York City’s Citicorp Center
  • How the engineer of record reacted when faced with a predicament that could ruin his career and professional reputation
  • Factors that contributed to the design flaw, including an unconventional building design
  • How a design modification during construction magnified the problem


Credit: 1 PDH

Length: 16 pages

Preview a portion of the interactive version of the course, designed to provide a multi-media learning experience that you complete at your computer.

You may view either or both versions when you purchase this course

Imagine this scenario: An engineering student calls you one day out of the blue and tells you that there is a major design flaw on one of your projects. Not just any project, but the crowning achievement of your career. At first, you laugh and dismiss the student’s claims. But, then you feel compelled to go back and recheck your design. Much to your dismay (and horror), you find that the student was correct.

The scenario above sounds like a nightmare – the kind that wakes you up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. But, William LeMessurier lived this nightmare. After being contacted by an engineering student working on her thesis, LeMessurier discovered that the Citicorp Center in New York – a building that his engineering firm had designed – suffered from a major design flaw.

A 70-mph wind, an event that was predicted to occur once every 16 years, could topple the building, killing as many as 200,000 people working in the building and in adjacent buildings.

LeMessurier faced a predicament in which he feared his career and professional reputation would be destroyed and he would face litigation and bankruptcy. He considered a variety of options, ranging from suicide, to silence, to informing the client.

In this course, we’ll examine the factors and decisions that lead to the inadequacy of the Citicorp building’s structural support. We’ll review the actions that were ultimately taken to safeguard the public and correct the deficiencies. And we’ll review the ethical implications of LeMussurier’s decisions after he discovered the design flaw. LeMussurier’s willingness to inform the client about the design error is lauded as an example of exemplary ethical behavior. However, he was also complicit in not informing the public of the flaw while repairs were underway, depriving building occupants and neighbors of important information regarding their safety.

Special Note: Course ET-1037 and course ET-1043W are alternate presentations of the same course material. Therefore, only one version, either the course or webinar, can be taken during a renewal cycle. If you have any questions regarding course eligibility, please contact our Customer Service Team.

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Upcoming start dates

1 start date available

Start anytime!

  • Self-paced Online
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Who should attend?

Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 10 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Training content

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Factors and decisions that lead to the inadequacy of the Citicorp building’s structural support
  • How cost influenced a design modification during the construction phase
  • Actions taken by the engineer of record (EOR) to safeguard the public and correct the deficiencies
  • Canons of the NSPE Code of Ethics that are applicable to this case
  • Why the public was not informed of the design flaw until many years later
  • Laudable ethical decisions made by the EOR after discovering the design flaw
  • Decisions made by the EOR that could be construed as conflicting with the NSPE Code of Ethics


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