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It is the author’s firm belief that textiles and glass have the greatest potentials of all the building materials used today. Textiles fascinate by their high tensile strength (allowing to span over large distances), by their breathable property and by their capability to integrate different types of phase-change materials (PCM). Glass, on the other hand, provides high compression strength and perfect transparency – but also the possibility to alter this transparency through the integration in the glass of materials which have a switchable light transmissivity. Today’s coating technologies as well as the possibility of reinforcing glass with different stiffening materials open a nearly endless range of new ways of using glass. There is much room for further research and development with regard to this fascinating material. And while glass has been used as a building material for centuries, its structural properties only became a matter of serious research as late as in the 1980s. Since this time, the load-bearing behaviour of glass, its failure characteristics and the possibilities of influencing its transmissivity for radiation have been widely researched. But a series of interesting questions still remain untouched. Prof. Dr Werner Sobek Werner Sobek Ingenieure
Do ethics matter? Why should we structural engineers take a closer interest in ethics? We have rules of conduct which we respect – isn’t that enough? Is an interest in ethics good for business? There are no simple answers to these complex questions but I will show that reflective experienced practical engineers are well equipped both theoretically and practically to benefit by articulating and communicating added value by considering ethics. The discussion is at three levels of understanding. The first level is the most obvious and perhaps rather superficial level – where ethics matters to structural engineers because we are human beings. The second takes the arguments a little deeper to extract more value for engineers. The third level risks the discussion becoming too esoteric but provides some important underpinning to any value that we can extract from thinking about ethical issues. Good ethical practice improves business, demonstrates duty of care, helps recruitment and communicates value. Members of the Institution can help each other by sharing ethical dilemmas they have experienced in practice. Prof. David Blockley, FREng, BEng, PhD, DSc, CEng, FIStructE, FICE Department of Civil Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TR