The Essence of IISE Code Of Ethics in a Contract Company

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Regarding the third code in the IISE Code of Ethics, which is to issue statements on in a truthful and objective manner, Allan McDonald seems to have done just that. As a director for the engineering contract company MTI (Morton-Thiokol Inc.), he was concerned that below-freezing temperatures could negatively affect the O-rings onboard the Challenger. His decision to come forward about the incident was not in favor of his company, and he was removed and demoted from his job. Regarding the negative consequences, ‘I decided that that’s better than thinking about what could’ve been and should’ve been—is to make sure it never happens again,’ he [McDonald] said. ‘And I felt very good about that,” (Atkinson). McDonald is very much upholding this code when being honest even though it has negative impacts on his career. He emphasizes the need to feel comfortable speaking up and offering professional opinions because it could potentially save lives.

The fourth code of IISE ethics is that engineers shall act professional as faithful agents and avoid conflicts of interest. In the terms of this account, this code was violated before the Challenger ever launched. MTI (Morton-Thiokol Inc.) had recommended NASA not launch when the temperature was below a certain point due to a lack of experimental data to support it. The day before the launch, a few initially reluctant engineers agreed to launch, while McDonald, along with Joe Kilimister, declared inconclusive data to argue against it. NASA regulations state that any inconclusive data results in an automatic “no-go,” however it seems that this information was ignored when approval was given. NASA managers Larry Mulloy and George Hardy informed the higher-ups to go ahead with the launch and chose to ignore the concerns raised by many engineers (Harish); during the launch, the rings failed due to the temperature – the main concern among engineers. The choice to ignore these concerns led to the infamous explosion and cost the seven people on board their lives.

“Engineers shall build their professional reputation on the merit of their services and shall not compete unfairly with others,” is fifth in the IISE Code of Ethics. Merit is defined as “being particularly good or worthy,” (Oxford Dictionary). It seems this is yet another code that was violated, in part contributing to the disaster. It can be believed that every engineer who gave a “thumbs-up” to launch, even with their concerns, lost credibility and their reputation. The thought of not addressing the concerns of those who have proficient knowledge of their areas is mind-boggling, yet there was someone (or two) who allowed these concerns to go unacknowledged. This is not a merit-based choice to knowingly send a group of people into the air in a rocket that is likely to fail at any moment. This choice cost someone a mother, brother, friend, teacher, or child. Basing action on merit should be the standard, and those who failed to do so are responsible for so much more.

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