Vindicated

Well, it’s not money but it’s something. The last time I was working for an employer, I found out about some dangerous welding practices being used on submarines. The client knew that the welds were failing new tests and asked us to sign off on them anyway. The meeting was quiet, and I said the only thing I could. “I’m legally obligated to report that.”

When I started in that group, they said they “were happy to see me join, someone with design experience, someone who can mentor our younger engineers, help guide the design” and I joke that I looked around for who he was talking to. Once I called them on endangering people’s lives, I became a PNG PDQ. They brought in people to discuss “The Role of an Engineer”, not realizing (or caring) that I was contracted with the Engineering Association to teach that to engineering companies. Not one word was said about how to fix the welds. When my probationary contract ended, it wasn’t renewed. I haven’t been able to find engineering work since.

Then a year later, all the submarines are beached. They never fixed the welding practices, and we’re all lucky nobody died. I don’t think those subs will ever get into the water again. They’re out millions of dollars and the country’s out a bunch of submarines because they didn’t want to listen to their engineers.

This isn’t the first time for me. Victoria’s CREST radios have a bug that makes them hang. The problem is in a while loop; if it misses the handshake it’ll wait forever. It’s an easily fixable bug with one line, adding an “emergency_timeout” integer and not letting the while loop iterate more than 25 times (a SWAG number). Basically, this


do
{
wait_for_signal();
}

should become this:

emergency_timeout = 0;
do
{
wait_for_signal();
emergency_timeout++;
}while( emergency_timeout < 25 );

The bug never got fixed, to the best of my knowledge. Guess what happened when my contract came up for renewal? They are now out of business, bought by another company.

I don't understand why businesses would hire an engineer and ignore them, or worse, fire them for mentioning "hey, you've got a problem". Every time it's happened to me, the place is either out millions of dollars or they go out of business.