My Thoughts on Engineering Ethics – Essay
I thought that the article by Roger Boisjoly about the ethical decisions made regarding the space shuttle Challenger disaster. It gave a fascinating account of what one engineer experienced in having to make a very
difficult decision. He went to his superiors when he thought he found something wrong with the o-ring. Unfortunately management at MTI did not want to hear it and did their best to ignore it. To his dismay along the whole process he couldn’t get anyone at MTI or NASA to really listen and acknowledge the problem. So the launch of Challenger was not delayed and resulted in a tragedy.
Boisjoly has a lot of quotes that really put to heart what the code of ethics that all practicing and non-practicing engineers should follow. That as an engineer we have a responsibility to not let the “technical illiterate” decide what is safe or not. One has to ask themselves, “would you allow your wife or children to use this product without any reservation?” These statements implicitly cover the fundamental canons of ethics put forth by the National Society of Professional Engineers.
I found it surprising that a colleague of his said, “You don’t override your chain of command. My boss was there; I made my position known to him; he did not choose to pursue it; at that point, it’s up to him…” I was floored by that statement. I hope that if I strongly believe that there is a problem that can lead to a dangerous situation that I step forward and make sure that my point is made. I hope that as a practicing engineer that I am never put into the position that Boisjoly was, but if I were then I hope that I can take a lesson from him and do the right thing.