Friday, August 12, 2011

A million actual engineers?

This article about the cause of the many deaths and much disruption caused by a high-speed rail crash in China contained the unsurprising conclusion that there was a design flaw in the system.

This is a reminder that it is one thing to produce a million engineers every year, as we are told they are doing in China and India, and quite another to produce highly competent licensed Professional Engineers with the guts to stand up to management. I wonder how many of those graduates in China are "engineers" in name only.

Of course, incidents like the Challenger explosion remind us that even our system can fail when the engineer can't stop management, particularly politically astute management, from doing something not based on sound science.


CarlBrannen said...

I think that any time any country pushes the envelope on any technology there will be minor problems. If the technology involves big heavy things, then people are going to die.

Some of the things that come to mind are radium, the Titanic, early passenger jets, automobiles before recent safety improvements, space flight, early industrialized food in the US (1930s), early factory safety, patent medicines, medical practices in general, etc.

Xosé Manuel Carreira said...

I quite agree with your post.