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Re: Engineering News Record Editorial of 6-2-10

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On Jun 24, 2010, at 10:22 AM, Adair, Joel wrote:

I think the engineers involved in the notable engineering disasters mentioned by the author of the ENR article were caught in a similar bureaucratic process, where their decisions are isolated enough from the final product, process, or outcome, that the full impact of their day-to-day decisions is not always apparent. This environment breeds situations in which we are forced to “take off our engineer hat” and do things for the good of the bureaucracy, rather than for the good of society as a whole, regardless of whatever engineering society’s code of ethics we have pledged to uphold.

This really makes a fairly good case against corporate practice of engineering. It makes an excellent case against engineering practice in a corporation whose purpose is anything other than providing engineering services. When someone's livelihood depends on meeting production goals, it's silly to expect a choice for anything other than production, particularly anything as murky 'the good of society.'

I've been in the business damn near 50 years, about half of which in solo practice, and I've about convinced myself that the only way through those choices is professional autonomy.

Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)   | this distance" (last words of Gen.
.......................................| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)

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