Responding to COVID-19: You can chat and email with us daily! Mon-Thu 7am-7pm, Fri 7am-6pm, Sat 11am-6pm, and Sun 1pm-6pm. But due to COVID-19, all University Libraries buildings are currently closed, and we're not accepting any new hold/pickup or scanning requests for physical items. See details on library changes and support.
Primary Causes of Engineering Disasters
The primary causes of engineering disasters are usually considered to be human factors (including both 'ethical' failure and accidents),
design flaws (many of which are also the result of unethical practices), materials failures, extreme conditions or environments, and, most commonly and importantly -- combinations of these reasons.
M. Matousek and J. Schneider
Purpose of Disaster Case Studies
Principles of engineering ethics are easy to formulate but sometimes hard to apply. Suppose, for example, that an engineering team has made design choice X, rather than Y, and X leads to a bad consequence—someone was injured. To determine if the engineers acted ethically, we have to answer the question of whether they chose X rather than Y because 1) X appeared to be the better technical choice, or 2) X promoted some other end (for example, financial) in the organization. Abstract ethics principles alone cannot answer this question; we must delve into the technical details surrounding the decision. The purpose of case studies in general is to provide
us with the context—the technical details—of an engineering decision in which and ethical principle may have been violated.
Mark P. Rossow, P.E., Ph.D.