Signing Off on Drawings (adapted from NSPE Cases No. 88-5)

Signing Off on Drawings (adapted from NSPE Cases No. 88-5)


An example of why signing off on one's drawings is essential to responsible engineering.


Putnam is an engineer employed by a computer manufacturer. He is responsible for the design of some computer equipment and signs off on the drawings. Although his design has been properly prepared, the manufacturing process is faulty, drives up cost, and suffers a mechanical breakdown. The manufacturing division suggests modifications to bring down costs, but Putnam analyzes the recommendations and finds that they would reduce the reliability of the product that would likely cost the company more through warranty claims. Putnam's supervisor asks him to sign off on the changes anyway. Although there is nothing to suggest that there is a safety problem, Putnam raises reliability concerns to his supervisor.

What are Putnam's professional responsibilities in this case? What are the supervisor's responsibilities? What should Putnam do?

NSPE Code of Ethics An earlier version may have been used in this case.