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Final Projects CIVL 4460

Professor Jan A. OleszkiewiczPEng; CEng(UK), BCEE
TA: Qiuyan Yuan.. Lukasz Jaroszynski

Group number is the same as Project number

NOTE: each project lists a menu of topics to choose from –

The list of suggested subtopics is not a request to do all issues – you can do just
a few of the suggestions and expand on your own ideas but you should address
the MUST TOPIC! Read instructions well. No pontificating and blaming –
present concrete facts and separate opinion from fact in an adversarial way
within a group: pro and con

1. Global warming: what are the consequences and issues? This topic
must be done as debate
 Technical pro and con data. Debate MUST TOPIC
 Historical causes and the interpretation of the biblical: “you shall rule over nature...”
 Cultural and technical reasons for existence of global warming
 Ethical issues of global warming
- Ethics of developed telling the developing countries how to live and conduct
their business
 Solutions and consequences: technical and societal issues
 Can there be benefits from technological developments in the future:
-Pessimistic reflection?
-Optimistic reflection?
 Could Global warming be a mistake in judgment?
 Case studies of problems solved and assessment of problems that are politically
charged and hard to solve
 Would you pay a $1000/year tax to once and for all get rid of GHG contribution by
Canada? How much would you pay?
 Canada is a clean country and “nice and moral” as far as GHG emissions, right?
 Can an individual contribute to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)?
 Impact on the Arctic and impact on the temperate zones. Will we be better off in
Canada or worse?
 Carbon credits: ethics of imposing them
 Will future technology solve the problem?
 Causes and effects; melting glaciers, rising sea, polar bears decline
 Could it be normal cycle? Are all in agreement what it is and why?
 Is Global warming a new kind of problem for the humanity ? Any similarity with the
 Warming is Global but problems are local: is that the real problem? Which
entity/organization should decide if global warming is a problem and what to do?
 Global Warming: technological, political or educational problem? And how about

 Facts, costs and choice criteria between adaptation and prevention of global warming.
 Will somebody (company or country) take advantage from global warming?
 Is it possible or right to apply the” polluter pays principle”?

(Suggested book: “The vanishing face of Gaia” by James Lovelock)

2. Technology as a way of enslaving and conquering the less developed

societies and conflict between financial interest of the rich nations versus
the real needs of the less developed countries
 Columbus and the dramatic decline of the indigenous population: holocaust or a
natural phenomenon? Cortez: direct and indirect genocide.
 How ethical was the conquest of Americas? (movie “Mission”; American whiskey
traders and First Nations in Canada; book Stanner: “The American Holocaust” I have
a copy).
 How much self-responsibility do aboriginal cultures (in Australia, America, Africa)
have? Are they exercising it? Is there something that is in the way?
 Was technology the only reason for submission of indigenous Americans,
Australians, and Africans?
 Is the impact of improved media today important in:
 making the change?
 inducing the desire to change?
 driving to depression based on realization (regardless whether false or true) that
“for me change is not possible”?
 How can technology help get the indigenous people out of the present situation?
 To what extent are the technologically developed descendants of the colonialists
responsible for the current situation in America; Africa and elsewhere? MUST
 Many Africans believe they are poor so the West can stay rich – yet they only
contribute 2% to the world economy. Explain
 Compare transfer of technology and transfer of knowledge in international
 Can cooperation made by NGO be detrimental to the hosting countries. How does it
relate to technology?
 Is democracy a western technology ? Is it possible to export democracy ?
 Externalities of the application of technologies in the rich countries: can technology
have an impact on less developed countries without being exported?

3. Medical technology and impact on the aging society

 Historical background for technology in medicine: technical milestones. Emphasize
impact on psyche and behavior (e.g. “…I can drink more as in the worst case I will
just buy me a new liver, they have a sale on them in …after the students protesting
against the regime were arrested.”)
 Why is the population aging?

 What is the draw on the national health system and can public health be sustained?
 May give a case study of engineering work that changed medical technology (but not
a lot of cases – this is not about technology only!)
 Technology of implants and transplants and life prolongation - what should be the
basis for decision-making? MUST TOPIC
- is age of importance?
- should cost be a factor? The cost-effectiveness of decision making
- dialysis for people under 55 only (UK) or anybody who needs it (US)
- is money available? Is it true that only rich and connected get service?
 role engineering played in technology of medicine and impact on how people feel
about the quality of life.
 Should medical technology emphasize life expectancy or life quality?
 Support of “vegetable life”. Freezing the sick for future cure
 Cloning and what are the societal issues?
 Access to AIDS info on employees and interviewees - knowledge of taking the test
(not the result of it)
 The right to die and what technology should be made available
 How much would you like to know and should you know - e.g. if I have a gene that
makes me 500% more susceptible to prostate or breast cancer. Should then
mastectomy be practiced for before cancer strikes?

4. Impact of technology on aboriginal society in Canada

 Must check with local resources on U of M campus!
 Technology factors affecting destruction of traditional life: case studies from history
and the present. Technology transfer from traditional to modern: case studies
 Can technology help in assimilating (if that’s what is deemed best by all concerned)
and how?: case studies. What are the real needs and how the technology can help?
 the future of land-based approach versus the know-how and more capital-based
 can you visualize a scenario of harmonious integration or living side-by-side with the
aid of technology?
 What is needed to change the present situation: show a scenario
 Technology of incarceration vs healing circles and should there be two justice
systems? Why or why not? What is happening during incarceration?
 How can technology help to solve the problem?
 Integration of native earth-bound environmental beliefs and natural ethic into the
western anthropocentric ethic.
 Is technology the real difference between aboriginal and western culture?

5. Effect of technology on man-woman and family inter-actions

 effects on relationships
-family values and interaction (deep or superficial?)
-couch potato
-community values

How children grow up: is there a chance for a better society when clashing
intolerant cultures are blending into Canadian tolerant one. MUST TOPIC
 effect of mass media on the promotion of certain life-styles
-a he-woman kicking butt vs she-man changing diapers
 effect on crime (+ and -)
 Ads changing the standards of what is OK & not OK?
 Role of women changing with technology: human rights. MUST TOPIC
 Is it due to technology that we are more tolerant to behavior that before was punished
yet practiced?
 Technology allowing more deviations and diversions?
 Impact of mass pornography & sexual content in advertising on male psyche.
 Is the impact similar on female psyche?
 Can this be traced to technology or is it “evolution”?
 Role of a woman in a family in year 1000, 1400; 1890; 2006 versus that of a man. Is
technology playing a role here?
 How can technology help to bring the players together?
 How old should kids be to start using computers?
 Meeting in a bar or in a chat room: any difference?
 Will people become different from their parents due to early use of computer and

6. High-tech versus Low-tech society

 define society. Differences in technological development
 personal and family level
 personal communication: (contact; touch; expression; spirituality; emotions)
 variations in trusting the senses or technology
 visualize the change from low to high tech society and illustrate the problems
 NAFTA and how the technology will affect the relations between countries that are at
vastly different social and technical levels. (What’s good and what’s bad and for
 What is the role for globalization: exploit or help? Find your own arguments not just
those from the book
 Economic support for countries with oppressive regimes - makes sense or ethically
suspect? Ways of making it ethically correct?
 use dialog to show differing points of view
 How can technology help to reduce the “difference”?
 Are we coping with an unprecedented technological revolution?
 What is the difference between high-tech society and technocracy?

7. Technology versus overpopulation, Food shortage and migration

 historical development of society: where, why and how (e.g. nomads vs farmers)
 Is this a really unsolvable issue? Where is it going and where will it end? MUST
 What are the real and perceived threats?

 population pressures and the reasons for their existence: is technology involved here?
 Can technology change the perspective of overpopulation
 What does the future hold? Is food shortage real or artificial?
 Why is it that some farmers in Western Canada opted to kill their pigs in 1999 – in
view of hungry homeless?
 Ecological footprint and carrying capacity
 Ethics of imposing limits on the size of the family. Can this be done?
 Unlimited or selected immigration?
 Is globalization important in solving problems?
 How can technology help to solve the problem?
 Address developed and developing nations
 Synthetic food is the solution ?
 Effect of competition between food and biodiesel production.
 Is this a new topic?

8. Energy demand and effects on society

 Energy historically - ease and difficulty in harnessing
 Availability of resources. Biggest users and trends. Energy efficiency.
 Types of energy and the goal of sustainable development.
 Russia’s Putin closing the gas valve to Ukraine as punishment for EU favoring
alliance with Europe over Russia. Impact of rogue dictators on policy. What will be
the consequence for Russia and for Europe?
 Ethics of conserving energy versus business interests of profits proportional to the use
of energy MUST TOPIC
 Effects of energy on society’s way of life and doing business
 Future energy use and production and what ethics dictates. Prediction on the societal
response to the ethical paradigm
 development of nuclear reaction and ethics of technology developers
 technology of nuclear proliferation: how and why?
 changes in societal view of the technology:
-trust (or lack off) in nuclear power’s safety
-risk involved and what people think in different parts of the world
 nuclear waste and disposal - does technological cure exist?
 future technologies (Sandia Nat’l Lab fusion R&D)
 can technology help overcome public opposition, fear and mistrust of nuclear
technology? Should it?
 . What is ruling the competition among fissile, fossil and renewable? An efficient
market or political choices?
 Saving the oil for future generations. Does it make sense?

9.Impact of media technology on life’s choices and direction

 Promotion of lifestyle – historical perspective
 Promotion of lifestyle today:

 Role model – and how we find out who to follow (arts; sports; warrior; scientist;
 Effectiveness of media
 Ethics of advertising and convincing society to something that the advertising
party has a vested interest in MUST TOPIC
 Entertainment industry:
 Whatever sells – is this the right rule?
 Are we really affected by what we see, hear as “entertainment”?
 Who controls and screens: government; family; church; nobody?
 Who should control (or shouldn’t) control. Do we need protection?
 Impact of media on violence among people: more violence due to seeing brutality or
is there less violence due to emotional discharge and discussion of consequences?
 How can technology help the young?
 Television and internet can affect life-style differently. How and why?
 Wars and media. Getting more information or becoming indifferent to violence?

10. Military engineering. Ethics of war as conflict resolution

 historical wars: time frame and consequences for society. Why wars happen?
 impact of technology:
- reasons (aims) for war through time
- ease of starting war and what was needed to keep it up
 Will technology escalate the ease of waging wars?
 Has technology made wars “winnable” and societies more acceptable of conquests?
 Has technology made an impact on the “morality” of war?
 The future: Star Wars? Who owns or could claim space in Space? Ethics vs countries
that are small and weak
 Did the enemy change with technology of transport? (remote control war?)
 Man versus woman attitude towards wars. MUST TOPIC
 Why was Canada in WWI and WWII? Were we threatened or just loyal to the King?
Did the King reciprocate?
 Should one be loyal to the government?
 Will technology help prevent wars?
 How nuclear technology helps alleviate global conflict
 What technologies can help prevent a war? Is that even possible?
 Specifically you must avoid listing a sequence of a particular weapon
development. It is tempting but you should concentrate on people and how
they justify killing. Is technology helping to kill with detachment (as opposed to
a club or killing with a halabard …).

11. Technology and terrorism

 How technology changed terrorism
 Is terrorism a justified form of bringing attention to issues that are unpopular with the
 What are some of the types of terrorism?

 Can terrorism force a change for the good?

 Is terrorism new?
 Is it true that most suicide terrorists in the news today are poorly educated while their
masters are well educated and are never harmed?
 What role does religion play in terrorism and how can technology alter that
 How can terrorism be dealt with?
 How technology changed our view of terrorism?
 How technology can help shield from terrorism – particularly civil engineering
 How do terrorists justify ethically their behavior? Is it blind ideology? What is right
or wrong with “Death to America, West etc!” chants you see on TV on many
occasions. Who is saying that and how does this ideology spread. MUST TOPIC
 Recent adds in USA showing that driving SUVs invites purchase of more petroleum
with consequences of enriching and emboldening the terrorists
 When is killing innocent people justified? What about children.
 Is boycotting a company a light form of terrorism?
 What are the differences between eco-terrorism and other kind of terrorism (if any)?

12. Technology helping Canadian business in situation where

unofficial/official corruption is endemic
Note: we assume we have an engineering business that is following our
Engineering Code
 Some companies elect not to do business in some countries. Why not?
 Can technology help around the corruption? Or should one go along and fall into the
accepted style of business. MUST TOPIC
 What are the benefits of an engineering company or industry moving into a corrupt
country: MUST TOPIC
o Benefits for that country
o Benefits for the company
 Consider a corrupt country with tyrannical dictators (e.g. religious in some
“republics’) with no media freedom versus corrupt country with media freedom. Are
there ways of working within both?
 Give examples of deals in Canada or anywhere else in the world of deals where
corruption was suspected or was proven.
 Can deals be made without lobbyists? How can a politician know for sure that she is
making a good decision?
 Role of mass media in covering/promoting/whitewashing some behaviors (e.g.
Russia, Italy)
 Can corruption be legal?

13. Sanitation and public health

 The so-called “primitive” societies and the “civilized” ones. If sanitation is a measure
of civilization how did Europe stand against other regions? Has sanitation and water

been linked? Did availability of water for sanitation play a role in settling the cities?
Bubonic and other plagues. Seven riders of the apocalypse. Spread of disease and
the society.
 Modern sanitation - what started it? What engineering and statistical indicators are
there to show improvement? How did the life change with sanitation?
 Present and future technology of battling epidemiological assaults (Hot Zone etc)
 Society’s perception of public health and safety. Are we safer today?
- Examples of modern sanitation problems
- Safety of water
- Exotic diseases. - Appearance of super-bugs resistant to treatment
 Future of sanitation and disease control. Should money be spent to increase life span
in countries on the brink of disaster due to serious runaway overpopulation?
 Locating the Level IV Virology Lab in Winnipeg: Why is public still concerned?
 Lack of trust in technology to protect the public?
 Are the biological agents running ahead of our technology?
 Antibiotics: will they become ineffective due to microorganism adaptation? Should
we use antibiotics in a different way?
 Ethics of not providing sanitation for free to developing nations. Should the world
start a tax collection for that? Why would you want to share part of your income for
someone whose government had denounced you as capitalist pig? MUST TOPIC
 Sanitation and medical technology. What can be more effective in developing
countries and what is the difference between the effects of knowledge or technology
transfer ?
 Is sanitation compensating a lack of prevention? Examples.

14. Sport/recreation and technology

 Present scientific data pros and con – in a debate – of introducing technology to
improve results in various sports MUST TOPIC
 Discuss the precautionary principle versus facts at hand regarding doping
 Explain the ethics of wanting to achieve at all costs. Why should the athlete not take
anabolics etc to improve performance? It is his/her body. And we want to see better,
bigger, faster athletes…
 Professional versus amateur sport. What is real sport?
 The business of Olympics and ethics of tolerating “rogue” countries that are
responsible for e.g. atrocities and sociopathic behavior – why tolerate their presence
in the Olympic movement?
 Effect of technology on leisure and on health: the “joy-stick warrior”
 Civil engineering’s role in recreation
 Recreation that is probably detrimental - made possible through technology
-water scooter
-extreme sports.

 High-tech gyms and low-tech outdoor sports. Pros and cons.


15. Communication (as distinctly different from transportation)

 Historic communication: mirrors; smoke signals, flags; Morse; voice and drums;
pigeons; messengers etc. Why the evolution and what were the societal
 Internet and the way of business; life. Particularly the impact on relationship: instant
“friends”; chat and one-on-one friendships; mass sex catering to all. Impact on one’s
outlook on the opposite sex. MUST TOPIC Internet impact: positive or negative
 Civil engineering input into communication - any? Effects on society. MUST
 Future of communication: attach to nerve endings; video-phone;
 Communication and the right to privacy
 Will future technology help people communicate or isolate them?
 Surveillance and the Big Brother
 Facebook. A way to find in 10 minutes the people you needed 10 years to forget