Category Archives: Eng’g philosophy

A Hierarchy of Good Intentions

Many parents will be at least vaguely aware of Piaget’s theory of moral development in children.  Kids up to about age 10 tend to think that right and wrong are defined by rules and punishment, regardless of context.  Older children … Continue reading

Posted in Eng'g philosophy, Research, Standards | 3 Comments

Gaining wisdom

I have written on a few occasions in the past about how engineering is not absolute and requires a sensible attitude to rules, the ability to be comfortable with uncertainty and some degree of professional wisdom.  That was all just … Continue reading

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Safety in Design

“Safety in Design” is a research project within the public safety program of the Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre.  The focus is on public safety and the research involved interviews with a few dozen engineers from the design teams in … Continue reading

Posted in Eng'g philosophy, Pipeline design, Research | 2 Comments

Perfectly safe …

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a friend from university days.  That’s not particularly relevant to pipeline engineering, except that he was the source of the punchline I use almost every time I talk to a group or a … Continue reading

Posted in Eng'g philosophy, Operations, Pipeline design, Risk assessment | Leave a comment

Think like the judge

One way of thinking about the validity of your actions as an engineer is to imagine how they would be perceived by the inquiry following a disaster involving your work.  A while ago I used to be a bit apologetic, … Continue reading

Posted in Eng'g philosophy, Operations, Pipeline design, Risk assessment | 8 Comments

Deviant engineering

I have just finished reading a dense but interesting book on the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster [1].  In a nutshell, the craft was destroyed 73 seconds after launch by a seal failure on one of the solid rocket boosters.  … Continue reading

Posted in Eng'g philosophy, Risk assessment | 6 Comments

Pipeline QRA (quantitative risk assessment)

Recently I had to review a quantitative risk assessment for a pipeline.  QRA is not much used for pipelines in Australia, apart from WA, so I only see such reports infrequently.  I am consistently underwhelmed by the approach taken and … Continue reading

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