Failure & Risk
To be completely honest, I have never heard about the Challenger until I took this class. It is hard to wrap your hand around how a minute design flaw, cost the lives of seven astronauts. Something as simple as a rubber ring, and cold weather turned out to be one of the greatest disasters in history.
Failure comes hand in hand with being an engineer. Unfortunately, NASAs 25th mission failed miserably, just 73 seconds after liftoff. It all could have been avoided if they took into consideration what some engineers had advised, "do not launch in cold weather". But as we covered in lecture one; overconfidence can be a major risk factor.
We might never be able to eliminate risks completely, but we can definitely reduce them through heedful scrutiny. Procedures such as FMECA have risen to be a very useful tool for risk reduction. The process includes identifying ways in which specific parts can fail, and the effect it can have on the system. However, like many preventative procedures; it has flaws. The main one being that it does not work for complex ideas nor does it take into account a combination of failures. Which is sort of ironic because as we learned in lecture 2; the more "layers" a design has, the more efficiently we can avoid a catastrophic failure.
As Professor Halada ended his lecture, no process is perfect. But we can improve by making mistakes along the way.
“The future doesn’t belong to the faint-hearted; it belongs to the brave.
The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.”
- Ronald Reagan -