• University of Michigan logo
New

Ethics in Engineering: Stories About Epic Engineering Fails

Discover the impacts of engineering failures as you uncover historical cases and the key factors that led to disastrous results.

Ethics in Engineering: Stories About Epic Engineering Fails
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours
  • 100% online

    Learn at your own paceHow it works
  • Unlimited

    $23.33/monthLearn more

Explore unique case studies in engineering ethics

On this four-week course, you’ll examine different historical case studies and understand how they led to classic engineering failures.

Though each case is unique and has a distinct context, they all share common themes; a backstory, a disastrous event, a post-event with ramifications, and outcomes.

For each case, you’ll watch and hear video lectures and explore foundational literature. You’ll also have the opportunity to discuss the case in detail and check your knowledge through quizzes and reflections on your understanding of the case. This format will help you develop a working knowledge of ethical foundations.

Delve into several case studies, including the VW emissions scandal

You’ll examine four case studies; the VW emissions scandal, the failure of the Denver airport baggage system, the fatal case of the Therac 25 radiation machine, and the software failure of the Ariane 5 rocket launch.

With each case, you’ll identify key aspects that led to the engineering failures and discuss the outcomes of the failures.

You’ll also explore the significance of each case and how they led to corrective actions.

Develop your knowledge of engineering alongside experts in the industry

The course will help you reflect on engineering as a design discipline and its impact on humans.

You’ll be guided by Dr David Chesney, an expert in both industry and academics with 20 years of experience at General Motors Corporation and 20 years working at the University of Michigan. Dr. Chesney’s background is in Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Computer Science and he is the Toby Teorey Collegiate Lecturer in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    The Volkswagen (VW) Emissions Scandal

    • Welcome to the Course

      Welcome to the Ethics in Engineering Course! Let’s get to know each other, meet Dr. Chesney, and get an overview of what we will learn.

    • Introduction to the VW Emissions Scandal

      Welcome to our first case study! We start with an introduction to the VW Emissions scandal so that we ground our understanding in facts.

    • The Event of the VW Emissions Scandal

      How did the VW emission scandal come to light? What are the key dates of this event?

    • Post Event and Evaluation of the VW Emissions Scandal

      What happened next? What are the outcomes of the VW emissions scandal?

  • Week 2

    The Denver International Airport (DIA) Baggage Handling System

    • Overview of Ethical Models

      Before we go to our second case of an engineering failure, let us explore four (4) different ethical models and distinguish among them.

    • Introduction to rhe DIA Baggage Handling Catastrophe

      Welcome to our second case study! We start with an introduction to the DIA baggage handling catastrophe so that we ground our understanding in facts.

    • The Event of the DIA Baggage Handling Catastrophe

      How did the DIA baggage handling catastrophe come to light? Who knew about it? What did those in power do to fix it?

    • Post Event and Evaluation of the DIA Baggage Handling Catastrophe

      What happened next? What are the outcomes of the DIA baggage handling catastrophe?

  • Week 3

    The Therac‌ ‌25‌ ‌Radiation‌ ‌Machine‌ ‌Malfunction‌ ‌ ‌

    • Introduction to the Therac 25 Radiation Machine Malfunction

      Welcome to our third case study! We start with an introduction to the Therac 25 radiation machine malfunction so that we ground our understanding in facts.

    • The Event of the Therac 25 Radiation Machine Malfunction

      How did the Therac 25 radiation machine malfunction come to light? Who knew about it? What protective systems were in place?

    • Post Event and Evaluation of the Therac 25 Radiation Machine Malfunction

      What happened next? What are the outcomes of the Therac 25 radiation machine malfunction?

  • Week 4

    The Ariane 5 Rocket Launch Disaster

    • Introduction to the Ariane 5 Rocket Launch Disaster

      Welcome to our fourth case study! We start with an introduction to the Ariane 5 rocket launch disaster so that we ground our understanding in facts.

    • The Event of the Ariane 5 Rocket Launch Disaster

      When did the Ariane 5 Rocket Launch Disaster happen? How did this disaster unfold? [Photo attribution: ESA]

    • Post Event and Evaluation of the Ariane 5 Rocket Launch Disaster

      What happened next? What are the outcomes of the Ariane 5 rocket launch disaster?

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe multiple historical cases of classic engineering failures
  • Identify key aspects that led to these classic engineering failures
  • Discuss the causes and the outcomes of these classic engineering failures
  • Reflect on the significance of these cases of classic engineering failures, with respect to corresponding applications of corrective actions
  • Develop a working knowledge of ethical foundations
  • Reflect on the utility of engineering as a design discipline and on its impact on humans

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in the underlying causes of engineering failures.

It will be particularly useful for engineering students and professionals, although no prior experience is required.

Who will you learn with?

David Chesney is currently faculty in both the Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering Departments at the University of Michigan. Prior to UM, he spent 20 years working in the automotive industry

Who developed the course?

University of Michigan

As the #1 public research university in the United States, U-M has been a leader in research, learning, and teaching for more than 200 years, with 102 Grad programs in the top 10 — U.S. News & World Report (2019).

  • Established

    1817
  • Location

    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  • World ranking

    Top 30Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020
Recommended

Ways to learn

Upgrade this course

Unlimited

Basic access

Choose the best way to learn for you!

$59

$23.33/month

Billed at $279.99 for a year

Free

Unlock your expertiseEndless possibilities!Try before you upgrade
Access to this courseticktickLimited to 6 weeks
Access to ALL eligible short courses with additional benefits, for a yearcrosstickcross
Discuss your learning in commentstickticktick
Tests to check your learningticktickcross
Certificate when you're eligiblePrinted and digitalDigital onlycross
Join and Upgrade

Ways to learn

Buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year or Upgrade just this course for extra benefits. Or, join with basic access.

Unlimited

$23.33/month

Billed at $279.99 for a year

Endless possibilities!

  • Access to this course
  • Access to ALL eligible short courses with additional benefits, for a year
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Upgrade this course

$59

Unlock your expertise

  • All of the above* for this course only, plus a printed certificate when you’re eligible

*Excludes access to all eligible short courses with additional benefits for a year

Basic access

Free

Try before you buy

  • Limited access to course content for 6 weeks

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...