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Let me tell you something about extreme engineering where lives are at stake – even one system failure is unacceptable. Not even close to appropriate to explain after the fact, that most of the levees held or most of the cranes were fine or only one corner of the building collapsed. That is not fine and certainly it is unacceptable to experience any of these systems failures, partial or not.

When people’s lives and safety are involved which is generally – “always” in some measure, then engineering must be brought to higher standards. Always, this time, everytime, the inspections must be rigorous and kept also to the highest standards throughout the life of a project. Any loss of life, permanent alterations of people’s lives and opportunities, loss of safety, loss of property and economic impingements must be considered as unacceptable losses due to project failure.

In this, there is not “good enough” as a tolerable standard to use for any reason, economic or otherwise. Every engineer has a conscience, every project manager has a conscience and whether it seems so or not, every bureaucrat and business person has a conscience, as well. This is where we put conscience to practical use.

It is absolute. When lives and safety can be jeopardized by engineering projects to a less than adequate standard, it must be changed into what will work, what does ensure safety and to what is completely sound to protect people’s lives. This high standard is the only thing “good enough” and acceptable in project engineering of any kind. It includes any and all changes made in the project specs by everyone involved including project managers, business owners, businesses and government supervisors and policy makers.

A few failures out of an entire group of the project are that many too many. This is based on the basic tenet and absolute fact in engineering that there are no “acceptable losses” and even one system failure is one too many.

Written by Cricket Diane C “Sparky” Phillips, 062408
Cricket House Studios, USA, 2008
“Creating the Tangible from the Impossible every day and creating the Impossible from the Tangible as needed.” – cd21-2008