Occidental Engineering Case Study: Part 1

TitleOccidental Engineering Case Study: Part 1
Publication TypeCase Study
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsMcFarland, MSJ
Corporate AuthorsMarkkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University,
Date Published06/2012
KeywordsEmployer/Employee Relationships , professional responsibility , public safety , software engineering
AbstractWayne Davidson is a software engineer in the aerospace division of Occidental Engineering. The company has recently gotten funding from the Federal Aviation Agency to design a system of all aircraft in a certain region. While testing a version of the prototype of this system, Wayne finds that it is perfect except for one small problem. When there are too many aircraft in the system, it will sometimes lose track of one or more of them. Wayne has worked with his colleagues to trace the problem to a subtle error in the memory allocation and reuse of the system, and they are confident that they can fix it, but it will take a month or more of redesign, coding and testing. Wayne talks with his boss about this issue, and she tells him they don't have months to fix the bug. If Occidental misses the deadline, the government will be tough on them. To deliver the software on time, Wayne certifies that the software is safe, and no problems ever seem to come up with the software.
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