2017 Ward Lecture Presents Business and Professional Ethics

Nicholas DeNichilo, PE, FASCE, NAC, president and CEO of global engineering, management and development firm Mott MacDonald
Nicholas DeNichilo, PE, FASCE, NAC, president and CEO of global engineering, management and development firm Mott MacDonald

On February 17, Villanova University College of Engineering welcomed Nicholas DeNichilo, PE, FASCE, NAC, president and CEO of global engineering, management and development firm Mott MacDonald. As the keynote speaker for the 2017 Patrick J. Cunningham, Jr. and Susan Ward '80 Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering, DeNichilo addressed the Villanova community on the topic of “Business and Professional Ethics—Managing with Integrity.”

DeNichilo began by emphasizing that, “It is a privilege, but also an awesome responsibility to be an engineer.” He reminded the audience of more than 200 students and faculty that the safety, health and welfare of the general public is often in an engineer’s hands.

After defining ethics and reviewing the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Code of Ethics, DeNichilo presented examples of the effects of unethical decisions. From the World Bank and Wells Fargo, to Volkswagen and the water issues of Flint, MI, such behavior can have life-changing consequences. He stated simply, “Any business that lacks ethical standards is bound to fail” and noted that St. Augustine said, “Habit, if not resisted, becomes necessity.” With this in mind, DeNichilo encouraged students to consider their values and how they match the company they’re considering working for.

As a reminder from the presentation, each attendee was given a postcard with “red flags” that indicate something unethical is about to occur, as well as questions you should ask yourself when trying to make ethical decisions.

Those who were unable to attend the lecture can review the archived recording.

The Patrick J. Cunningham, Jr. and Susan Ward '80 Endowed Lecture Series in Engineering was established in 2009 by Villanova Engineering alumnus Susan Ward ’80 ChE and her husband Patrick Cunningham, Jr. to offer students exposure to experts from various engineering fields and educational opportunities outside the classroom. The lecture is part of the College’s professional development program, Career Compass