Incident at Morales

U.S. Edition ©2003
International Edition ©2005 – Subtitled in 13 languages
For ordering information, contact: 

General Information


This video presents a study of ethical responsibilities and choices similar to many encountered in engineering practice. The video also shows that good and well-meaning people can unintentionally get into situations that may result in unethical and unfortunate consequences. The video is designed to help viewers become more aware that:

  • Ethical considerations are an integral part of making engineering decisions.
  • A code of ethics will provide guidance in the decision-making process.
  • The obligations of a code of ethics do not stop at the United States border.
  • The obligations of engineers go beyond fulfilling a contract with a client or customer.

The video was developed to increase the viewer’s:

  • Sensitivity: To raise awareness of ethical aspects of professional work.
  • Knowledge: To learn about professional standards such as codes of ethics
  • Judgment: To develop skills in moral reasoning
  • Commitment: To strengthen personal dedication to exemplary conduct

Incident at Morales is 36 minutes long when viewed without breaks and as much as 80 minutes if all discussions in the Interactive DVD are viewed. Thus, making it short enough for viewing and discussing at society meetings, company lunches, and college classes, and longer if presented in a series of educational meetings.

Subtitled Languages

The DVD contains subtitles for the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese – Simplified
  • Chinese – Traditional
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Hindi
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish

Synopsis of the Story

Incident at Morales involves a variety of ethical issues faced by a company that wants to quickly build a plant in order to develop a new chemical product to gain a competitive edge over the competition. Phaust Chemical manufactures Old Stripper, a paint remover that dominates the market. On learning that Phaust’s competitor Chemitoil plans to introduce a new paint remover that may capture the market, executives at Phaust decide to develop a competing product. To save money in manufacturing the product, Phaust decides to construct a new chemical plant in Mexico.

To design the new plant, Phaust hires a chemical engineer, Fred Martinez, who had been a consultant to Chemitoil. As the project starts, Chemistre, Phaust’s parent company in France, slashes budgets 20% across the board. Chuck, the vice president for engineering at Phaust, strongly encourages Fred to reduce construction costs. Fred confronts several engineering decisions in which ethical considerations play a major role:

  • Whether to use expensive controls manufactured by Lutz and Lutz, which has inside connections at Phaust;
  • Whether to line the evaporation ponds to prevent the seepage of hazardous substances in the effluents into the groundwater, although local regulations may not require this level of environmental protection;
  • Whether to purchase pipes and connectors made with stainless steel or a high pressure alloy; and
  • After the automatic controls fail, whether to allow someone to control the process manually.

When samples of Chemitoil’s new paint remover EasyStrip become available, it is clear that to be competitive with EasyStrip, Phaust must change the formulation of its new paint remover, requiring higher temperatures and pressures than originally anticipated. These increases in temperatures and pressures cause significant technical and ethical problems, the most serious of which is the fact that the automatic controls no longer work as intended. Thus, the plant manager, Manuel, volunteers to control the process manually. After the plant goes into full operation, an unfortunate accident occurs, resulting in serious consequences.

Free Downloadable Material

Study Guide

The 24-page study guide contains suggestions for use of the video, the story line, list of characters, synopsis of the video, purpose of the video, over 100 questions about ethical issues that the story raises, and a suggested assignment for students & viewers. Download the study guide for free.

PowerPoint Presentation

Twenty-six slides make up a PowerPoint presentation which may be downloaded free, modified to fit the presentation format and used as an introduction to the Incident at Morales. View and use this PowerPoint.


View the script for Incident at Morales.

Suggested Assignment

Before viewing Incident at Morales, please print and distribute the suggested assignment. After the movie, ask viewers to prepare a written response to the questions below. Suggested length is two to three pages with 1.5 line spacing, 12 point font, and 1 inch margins.

Purchase Information

Purchase Price

The Incident at Morales DVD is priced at $500 and the Incident at Morales VHS is priced at $250, plus $20 for shipping and handling. Universities, colleges, and libraries receive a 70% discount while engineering societies and distributors receive a 60% discount. If you would like a copy of Incident at Morales, please contact to order. Also, please look at the policy below regarding usage of NIEE movies.

Marketing Opportunity

Marketing organizations, including Societies, Universities, and other recognized groups (hereafter called Marketing Organizations) may purchase copies of NIEE videos at discounted prices and resell them to their own customers. Contact NIEE for more information, discounts, and conditions.

Policy Regarding Use

Whenever NIEE movies are shown, appropriate credit shall be given to the National Institute for Engineering Ethics.

NIEE movies may be:

  1. Shown to students or company employees without charge in non-fundraising venues.
  2. Posted on a university server for internal use only without a usage fee.
  3. Posted on other servers with a negotiated usage fee.