A Management Decision
The night before the space shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986, a three-way teleconference was held between Morton-Thiokol, Incorporated (MTI) in Utah; the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, AL; and the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. This teleconference was organized at the last minute to address temperature concerns raised by MTI engineers who had learned that overnight temperatures for January 27 were forecast to drop into the low 20s and potentially upper teens, and they had nearly a decade of data and documentation showing that the shuttle’s O-rings performed increasingly poorly the lower the temperature dropped below 60-70 degrees. The forecast high for January 28 was in the low-to-mid-30s; space shuttle program specifications stated unequivocally that the solid rocket boosters – the two white stereotypical rocket-looking devices on either side of the orbiter itself, and the equipment for which MTI was the sole-source contractor – should never be operated below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Every moment of this teleconference is crucial, but here I’ll focus on one detail in particular. Launch go / no-go votes had to be unanimous (i.e., not just a majority). MTI’s original vote can be summarized thusly: “Based on the presentation our engineers just gave, MTI recommends not launching.” MSFC personnel, however, rejected and pushed back strenuously against this recommendation, and MTI managers caved, going into an offline-caucus to “reevaluate the data.” During this caucus, the MTI general manager, Jerry Mason, told VP of Engineering Robert Lund, “Take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat.” And Lund instantly changed his vote from “no-go” to “go.”
This vote change is incredibly significant. On the MTI side of the teleconference, there were four managers and four engineers present. All eight of these men initially voted against the launch; after MSFC’s pressure, all four engineers were still against launching, and all four managers voted “go,” but they ALSO excluded the engineers from this final vote, because — as Jerry Mason said in front of then-President Reagan’s investigative Rogers Commission in spring 1986 — “We knew they didn’t want to launch. We had listened to their reasons and emotion, but in the end we had to make a management decision.”
A management decision.
Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, Commander Michael John Smith, Pilot Ellison S. Onizuka, Mission Specialist One Judith A... keep reading on reddit ➡
Curious about what kind of a union presence there exists in the software industry
I just wanted to thank this amazing community for helping me getting started into the journey that is the programming world. I am so happy!
EDIT: Sorry for not replying. I've been celebrating. I promise I'll respond to every single message in the morning
EDIT 2: Thank you so much for everybody's words. I tried to answer as many questions as possible, but now I have to go get ready for my first day. I'll try to keep answering questions later today.
I have been in engineering for 30+ years now. I have a masters in electrical engineering and have worked on a lot of things. Some good, some bad, some wildly successful, some not so much.
A quick bit about me; I met my wife when we were in our masters programs, we just happened to live near one another, met and started dating. That was 25+ years ago, and neither of us had much experience at all in our fields at the time. The big difference between us is that she went down the MBA path, I went down the technical path.
I have been around the block and have experience in a lot of making things happen. I was the hands on type of engineer who would be in the lab building and making things. I worked a lot of long hours and delivered a products that were very successful in their markets and made the company hundreds of millions. I also jumped around from start up to startup for many years; unfortunately most of them ended up busting.
My wife has had some very good jobs, and some bad ones. She also jumped around from start up to startup for a few decades. But there is no question about it, that she has ended up being more successful than I am.
My first job out of college was $35k/year (mid-1990); after ten years, in 2000 I was making $135k/year. So that's a significant increase and things looked good. BUT then the industry crashed and things got bad. Real bad. I had gone from always having offers of work, to being unemployed for almost 2 years at one point. I worked at home trying to build things and struggled to find a job no matter what it was doing. I ended up taking a pay cut $120k/year in the mid-2000's to get back on my feet.
My wife worked out similarly, she started off at minimum wage and worked her way up the ranks, trying hard to get ahead. The worst she suffered was a few months off when one of the startups closed and she had to find another. She landed a great job at a big company where she spent quite a few years learning how to do a lot of things. By mid-2000's she was making more than I was, somewhere in the $160k range.
In the 2010's my pay creeped up and was making $165k by the end of 2010's. I had to switch jobs to get any raise, since most companies were now "outsourcing" engineering or using contractors. Pay raises were on the average of 1% a year, and they would pigeon hole you into pay ranges "Principal Engineer" makes between X and Y a year, period. Unless they bumped you to "Senior PE" you coul... keep reading on reddit ➡
I've heard of a few instances where someone wish they went into another type of engineering or business instead.
If you regret your decision, why?
Super excited that I don't have to spend the next 3 months until graduation applying/interviewing and worrying that I won't find a job lol
I gotta get this off my chest, and I'm sure I'll piss some people off in the process. Stop putting engineers in charge of startup product planning. Would you put a carpenter in charge of planning your house? Of course not, that's what design architects are for.
Part of the problem is engineers and investors think a like, they think more features equals more profit. This simply is not true. The best startups have great experiences with simple features. In fact, studies have shown design led companies have 56% higher revenue on average.
You need divergent creative thinkers at the helm of product planning, not engineers. Without great experiences, your functionality isn't worth a damn.
Thanks for attending my ted talk.
Edit 1: There is a difference between leading, and having a seat at the table. Of course Engineers and finance should be at the table.
Edit 2: Design matters. I'm not going to even try to argue that. We settled that debate over a decade ago. Users when given the choice between a good looking product and a bad one, 9/10 will choose the good experience.
I know I’ve probably made a mistake
Edit: Okay so this post blew up a lot more than I was expecting, and I just want to thank everyone for the kind words and advice, it’s all been noted and I will come back to this post whenever I need a refresher
So I finally decided to drop out of my aerospace engineering program and pursue a philosophy
major and English minor for the time of this pandemic. (Edit: Not sure yet what to major.)
I haven't filed the papers for it yet though, still a bit guilt ridden about my decision and the fact that
I'm doing this behind the back of my parents, who wouldn't aprove of it. (Edit: I realized I got to confront them about it sooner or later before the final decision.)
Yet I think I can say that for this point in time it is the right thing to do for me.
The workload, the online school teaching, the isolation, the inability to find good study buds and not knowing how to study these subjects, sent my mental health spiralling down. On top of that came my awful coping habits (that is just ignoring and neglecting work till the last minute) and my inability to sacrifice my hobbies. I realize I just wasn't ready to tackle it yet.
I mean, I still want to get an engineering degree. Just not now, not through pandemic online schooling and not when I'm putting other things on priority. Plus I'm just switching out the order of my "degrees I wanna get" plan anyway.
So uh, thx for listening to my little rant and wish me luck with my parents. >:')
Edit: Alright, so I did not expect this to spiral out to 162 comments and I'm thankful for all of them. So uh, I might as well drop some extra info and that is:
I live in Europe and tuition fees are almost negligible (about a 143 bucks a semester, public transport ticket for the whole semester included.)
Yes, I know philosophy and english have no job prospects, but I believe that they will help me improve my writing skills. (Cuz I'd imagine author/journalist as my backup career.)
My big dilemma is I don't know if it is me who wants to get an engineering degree or if it's just because I got it drilled in my head for so long due to my parents.
I have confronted my parents about it and well... I'm not dropping out. They've threatened to cut off their financial aid if I persisted to switch, which is something I financially cannot afford. :/
Since I am stuck in this I decided to drop 2 classes, maybe even a 3rd, if things do not get better. (Thx to everyone who suggested this btw) Call me an idiot for not thinking of it sooner, but I was worried about any penalties by doing so. Glad to say that there aren't any.
Seriously though there's a reason why that school is so highly ranked for engineering, and it's especially hard to get into as OOS. I know many people who've gotten into UCB, UCLA, UW, UIUC, Gatech, Umich, USC, etc and didn't get into Purdue(or got their 2nd choice majors). I get that you've gotta flex during app season but during decision season it's best to stay humble like Lamar.
I've been in the industry for almost a decade, and have been disappointed by the quality of software engineers (and managers) I've worked with at most levels. Don't get me wrong, there are some very good (and more importantly, good to work with), but in my experience they are few and far between.
But it's not because individuals aren't capable of being good or great engineers. And it's not that they don't know their data structures and algorithms or their oo design crap. The issue is that they haven't been taught well, or worse, they've been taught poorly, how to do software engineering. This applies to both technical and soft skills. I've yet to mentor a junior engineer who didn't easily become a competent and effective developer with the right guidance and feedback.
And it's not like people learn to be great software engineers by getting a bachelor's in cs.
So why don't we have better cs (or more appropriately, software engineering with good cs fundamentals) programs in community colleges that prepare people for real software engineering jobs? That way more people can get an effective education for a high paying and growing industry. And it doesn't have to try to cram everything into 12 weeks.
Anyone else having serious onboarding struggles at a new company?
(also happens to be my first company)
A simple ticket doesn’t make sense because none of the words or tools in the ticket make sense. Because everything is based on internal tools, I can’t search far and wide on the internet for answers. Team is friendly but swamped and I have a new question on every single step.
The docs give instructions like this:
In other words the docs make zero sense. I haven’t even seen words put together in that way before. And it feels like each step could probably use an entire doc of its own for an explanation.
It’s tempting to think I’m stupid/incompetent. But I do believe that if I had the resources to figure this out, I’d be able to learn.
Stand up meetings are becoming terrifying as I have literally nothing to report.
Anyone else in this situation? How did you get through?
If I get fired, any recommendations for companies that are good for junior developers who are still learning?