GEC Scenario #33: Backward Fans

This sample scenario is from a collection of 70+ Global Engineering Competency (GEC) scenarios developed for instructional and assessment purposes. For more information, including links to usage tips and other supporting resources, visit our About page.

Your U.S.-based firm is building a new plant in Shanghai. As a civil engineer, you are overseeing installation of the plant’s ventilation systems. You are working closely with a local contractor that is providing equipment according to your specifications. After the supplier delivers an important air-handling unit, you discover that the fans have been installed backwards. You verify that the design specifications were not followed, and the contract indicates that the supplier is responsible for fixing the problem, likely at considerable expense and delay. You also run some tests and find that the alternate fan configuration will work, just not as efficiently. What would you do?

  1. Demand that the issue be resolved at the supplier’s expense
  2. Let the issue go but document it, recognizing that the supplier will not want to honor the contract
  3. Consult with your immediate supervisor about what to do
  4. Fix the fan configuration yourself by modifying the equipment
  5. Return the equipment for a refund and find a new supplier
  6. Ignore the issue, and hope everything works out okay

Recommended Uses: INSTRUCTION/TRAINING (see our GEC Resource Guide for additional guidance)

Citation: Jesiek, B. K. and Woo, S. E. (Eds.). (2018). GEC Scenario #33: Backward Fans. Retrieved from

License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1160455 and 1254323. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We also acknowledge support for this work from Purdue's Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment and Research (CILMAR).