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Ethical Failures in Engineering - The Molasses Flood of 1919 (2 credit hours/2 HSW Hours)
In creating products of various kinds for use by clients or by the general public, engineers have an ethical duty to strive to prevent the products from harming anyone.  Thus when a product fails and someone is injured or killed, the question always arises whether the engineers responsible for the product are guilty of negligence.  But determining negligence can be difficult.  The purpose of this 2 hour course is to describe those aspects of an engineering failure and its aftermath that should be considered when trying to judge if engineers have acted negligently.  The subjects considered include the expected standard of care, safety and risk estimates, biases often present in failure investigations, the public’s desire for identifying wrong-doers, punishment, and the uses and misuses of the results of investigations.  These concepts are illustrated with a description of the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919, for which a new possible cause was identified only in 2014.  Four other case studies are also included.
Mark Rossow
This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:
  • Students will understand the concepts of negligence and standard of care.
  • Students will understand the relation of safety and risk.
  • Students will be able to recognize Knightian uncertainty.
  • Students will learn how to avoid the retrospective fallacy in accident investigations.
  • Students will be able to use the results of failure investigations properly.
  • Students will learn how punishment for engineering failure interferes with learning from failure studies.
  • Students will learn the general causes of engineering failures.

Titan Continuing Education, Inc. | 1519 Dale Mabry Hwy, Ste 201 Lutz, FL 33548 | Toll Free: 800.960.8858 | Email: info@TitanCE.com .