Abraham Calderón Rodríguez, an eighth-semester student of Civil Engineering at UNAM’s School of Engineering, obtained the first place in the Student Technical Paper Competition of the 2018 ASCE Texas Symposium, organized by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
Young Abraham competed against representatives of another 16 institutions of higher education: five Mexican (such as the Technological and Higher Studies Institute of Monterrey: ITESM and the Pan-American University) and 11 from Texas. The second and third places corresponded to the University of Texas at Arlington and Tyler University, respectively.
Abraham explained that the contest consisted of two parts: writing an essay in which ethics is related to engineering, which is sent in advance and presented to a jury within the framework of the symposium, then a question and answer session is carried out in which he had to convinced the jury, who evaluated the essay and the answers. On this occasion, the designated topic was “Social networks and civil engineering”.
In his essay, called “Are social networks a threat?” he exemplified through six cases, the importance of knowing the codes of ethics that should govern engineering, as well as understand and apply them correctly.
One of those examples was what happened in Mexico City with the earthquake of September 19, 2017, which damaged many buildings, and the people began to share images of their homes through social networks.
On Twitter, he recalled, an account called #RevisaMiGrieta (Chek out my crack) was created. There, citizens shared their photos and received comments from engineers about how damaged their house was.
“With the intention to help, someone could comment: “this is very small, do not worry’, or ‘it is serious, get out of there’, but they only saw one part of the house, not the complete structure. What if it was a room that did not suffered major damage, located in the eight floor, but the houses below were completely affected?”.
This situation is related to a code of ethics: making decisions until you have complete information.
In the same way, in order to avoid corruption or maintain the confidentiality of a construction work, it is necessary to be guided by ethics: “do not publish any photographs of me at work on social networks, nor those of the work itself”.
This can be a complex problem that could be solved if civil engineers knew that codes of ethics exist, and of course, they have to know these codes and understand them, he stressed.
Abraham thanked those who helped him during his preparation for the event, such as Professor Josué Garduño, and his colleagues Carlos Ibarra and Virgilio Andrade, who competed in previous years and gave him advice.
For Abraham, getting the first place is a great satisfaction. “It is very important that UNAM has the recognition and high level required for international competence. From this experience I am proud of having won and represented Mexico and the University. ”