The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster Case Studies Examples
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Facts in the case with respect to engineering design
SRBs design contained a catastrophic O- rings flaw
Lack of test data for supporting launch expectations
Poor orbiter design, hence could break when subjected to Aerodynamic.
Facts in the case with respect to atmospheric conditions from the night before launch until the time of disaster
Low atmospheric temperatures
Aerodynamic atmospheric conditions.
Glacial atmospheric conditions
Professional responsibilities that were neglected:
Firstly, the vehicle used was not given certification to operate at low temperatures. It was not professional to allow the vehicle operate at such extremely low temperatures without certification. Additionally, most critical components like the O- rings had missing test data supporting expectations. The managers knew that the contractor had catastrophic flaws characterizing O- rings. Neglecting such information was a serious professional negligence.
The fact that many engineers in the NASA case assumed administrative positions greatly contributed to the disaster. In most cases, administrative engineers tend to concentrate in managerial positions at the expense of their career. NASA managers knew more about Morton’s design, and their associated weaknesses. Allowing the vehicle to fly with such weakness was definitely contributed to, based on the managers’ career assumptions. In case the managerial engineers were serious with their engineering practice, they could not have neglected the design weaknesses that loomed. If I was working as an engineer in the capacity of an engineer, I would seriously weigh out every managerial decision from an engineering point of view. I would equally ensure that all key decisions are made based on the design recommendations. Finally, safety would become an essential priority behind every undertaking in my docket.
Feisel, L.D. Lyle’s Laws – Reflections on Ethics, Engineering, and Everything Else, Brooklyn River Press. 2013
Harris, C.E., Pritchard, M.S., and Rabins, M.J. Engineering Ethics – Concepts & Cases: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 2009
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