First and foremost, I love cases that are only a few pages. Easier to read and more fun to discuss. In this case, Carter Racing was faced with a decision to race or not to race. The dilemma is that their engine has been breaking at 29% rate. We believe that the engine failure is correlated to the temperature and we have a scatterplot to help visualize this.
Still, we have other pressing matters concerning our financial position. If we do not race, we lose out $85,000. If we decide to race, based on our record, we have a 50% chance of placing “in the money” and gaining a lucrative $2 million sponsorship. If we race and don’t win, there are two outcomes: just losing & engine ...view middle of the document...
The design has allowed greater power while maintaining good fuel consumption. The alloy used is a high-strength aircraft alloy and while not as temperature sensitive as the engine block, it should be able to handle the different expansion rates.
The race is about to begin. Our team is excited in winning this race. We have a lot riding on this including prize money, sponsorships, and number one status. When asked about the gasket problem, my team says we are ready to go.
Ten minutes before race time, I asked the temperatures for the races we had no engine problems. Looking at the data, we have had no engine problems at a range of 65-85 degrees. Most of our successful races occurred at higher temperatures, but also we have experienced engine failures in higher temperatures.
Two minutes before race time. Is it time to pull the race in light of this data? Or am I not able to draw anything conclusive from the evidence? Finally, this race is the final race of the season and our last chance to finish on top, with a sponsor, and even set up for a better position the next season.
What to do?
Decision Time and the Result
I want to race. No one ever won a race while in the pits. No guts. No glory.
The data I have collected is vague. The correlation to temperature and engine performance is strong, but does this mean racing at 40 degrees is relatable to our collected data? The advice from the mechanic is based on opinion. Also, our chances of winning are too tempting. With this money we can invest in resolving all our engine problems plus even expand our presence in the racing circuit. If we don’t race, we lose out any way.
Still, these engine problems are still bothering me.
The race starts and we get off to a good start. During the race, we’ve built a good lead… then the engine blows out.
On January 28, 1986 the Space Shuttle Challenger faced a similar dilemma. Ultimately, the decision to launch cost the lives to seven astronauts, including one American teacher who perished in front of her class as they watched the launch in Florida.
This has lead to restructuring of ethical engineering decision making. The investigation followed shortly after the tragedy revealed that NASA did indeed have the facts to have addressed this complication. There were those who voiced out reason and skepticism, but sadly they were not the decision makers.
One can argue that if we did not have these overseeing decision makers America would not have been able to reach space at all, stemming all the way from the 1960s. They had a track record of success: entering space and placing a man on the moon. Who was to say they are wrong? How do you challenge that? Those skeptical engineers can even convince themselves that this is just a minor problem or one that is unlikely to occur. This is what ran through everyone’s mind.
Taken into context, you can argue that the circumstances are different. But I counter that the...