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Why ENCE 421

Engineering design, construction and operations professionals must adhere to the highest professional standards in the conduct of their work responsibilities. This requires a good understanding of professional principles and of the legal environment in which the professional duties are being fulfilled. Basic knowledge of the structure and the operation of the legal system in the United States and of the pertinent laws and regulations affecting engineering professionals in their workplace will prevent adversarial relationships from developing and escalating to the point of requiring costly and time consuming litigation. Understanding what to expect from the legal process is necessary for all engineers who need to be successful in the conduct of their duties.

ProfessorMiroslaw J Skibniewski, PhDMiroslaw J Skibniewski, PhDStats Credits 3 Offered* Spring On-Campus Prequisite Permission


Engineering design, production and construction ethics

Discussion on how morality and ethics enters into the realm of professional practice in engineering design, production and construction, as well as types of ethical dilemmas faced by engineers in the course of conduct of professional activities.

Engineers as public servants

Discussion of the roles engineers take in public life, including service in elected and appointment-based government positions.

U.S. legal system and civil court litigation

Basic discussions on the origins and structure of the U.S. legal system and the functioning of civil court proceedings.

Contract laws, contract formation and administration; Contract dispute resolution techniques

Contract dispute resolution techniques

Product liability laws

Strict liability vs. negligence common laws related to products and services

Warranties and warranty laws

Discussion of express and implied warranties and Uniform Commercial Code - based warranty laws.

Business agency and government agencies

Purpose and procedures related to the formation of business agency relationships, as well as discussion of various types and purposes of the existing government agencies.

Labor laws and regulations

Wage-related laws and anti-discrimination laws in the work place

Alternative dispute resolution techniques

Discussion of mediation, arbitration and partnering goals and procedures.

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Offered: Spring On-Campus*
Week 1Engineering Ethics
  • The Engineer’s Relationship with His or Her Employer
  • Overview of U.S. Judicial System and Sources of Law
Week 2Engineering Ethics
  • he Engineer’s Relationship with His or Her Employer
  • Overview of U.S. judicial system and sources of law
  • Evidence
  • Torts
Week 3Product Liability and Labor LawWeek 4Tangible Property
  • Court Visit Report Due
Week 5Work SafetyWeek 6Outline of Term Paper DueWeek 7Intellectual Property
  • Copyrights
  • Trademarks
  • Patents
  • Trade Secrets
Week 8Sales and Warranties
Week 9Forms of Business Ownership
  • usiness Agency Relationship.
  • Government Agencies
  • Administrative Law
Week 10Introduction to Engineering and Construction Contract Law
  • Contract Interpretations
  • Assignments and Altercations
Week 11Insurance and BondingWeek 12Contracts for Engineering and ConstructionWeek 13Contract Drawings and SpecificationsWeek 14Professional Liability of Architects and Engineers
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Techniques
Week 15Final Exam
  • Open Book and Open Notes

*All course content, including schedule, topics, and books are subject to change semester-to-semester. Course costs are dependent on students' individual situations, including but not limited to, online vs on-campus enrollment, in-state vs out-of-state enrollment, and scholarships. Not all books on this page may be required readings and additional readings may be assigned. Please check the UMD Schedule of Classes for most up to date semester offerings. Instructors give students specific semester details once they are enrolled.