Currently, Mechanical engineering is becoming one of the most important fields in the world. Mechanical engineers are required in all types of fields, such as manufacture, repairing and maintenance. It is a subject of engineering which is combined by the principles of computer science, physics, material science, math, business and management. As for a professional mechanical engineer, you are not only required to know well the general knowledge of engineering, you are also expected to master diverse transferable skills. However, mechanical engineer cannot only take the goal as production of moral hero; they also have to take responsibility to themselves and the products that they made. For instance, vehicle mechanical engineers have to be responsible to the vehicles that they made. A professional engineer should not treat his task easily, even though he is being squeezed by the company. Therefore, in this essay, a case study which is referred to Ford Pinto disaster will be introduced and analyzed. In addition, this essay also will describe the core knowledge skills which are expected to mechanical engineers, the jobs that mechanical engineers can undertake, and the roles that mechanical engineers play in society.
Ford Pinto accident is a famous vehicle disaster which was happened in the last century, the main reasons of this disaster are Ford Pinto’s design flaw and development phase issue. In 1971, the Pinto which is produced by Ford had become the most popular modal in the subcompact level. From 1971 to 1980, more than 3,000,000 of the cars had been sold. However, in the middle of that decade, Pinto was got into the trouble, which was reported that Pinto was easily to get fire after rear-end
collision (Flammang, JM, 1994). Mother Jones magazine stated that the fuel tank system is so vulnerable that it can be punctured easily in a rear-impact collision, and fire hazard will happen. Additionally, Pinto cannot even satisfy a 20 miles per hour crash which is under the normalized value. From these two evidences, it can be demonstrated that Ford Pinto has shortage with fuel tank system. In other words, there is a design deficiency in the part of fuel tank system. On the other hand, Pinto was the first entrance into small vehicle market, which was produced by Ford (Flammang, JM, 1994). Additionally, it was also made against the competition from Japanese vehicle companies. Therefore, the development period of design and production had been compressed into 25 months instead of 43 months (Flammang, JM, 1994). Meanwhile, the engineers were also squeezed in the beginning of design (De George RT, 1981). The test of rear-end collision for fuel tank was not even processed until the vehicle has been created.
Although the mistake of mechanical engineers has not been regarded as a reason of Ford Pinto disaster, it cannot be guaranteed that they are not responsible in this case. Mechanical engineers play a significant role in corporations, although this role is not a policy or decide on probability of venture, which means they do not have to take moral responsibility of policy when risk happens. The exclusive important point that they are important to the companies and the public is their knowledge and capacity. However, to become a professional mechanical engineer, being responsible is also an important aspect. Professional mechanical engineers should not only regard more
advanced and technical products as a position, although this is the reason why they endeavor to work. From Ford Pinto case, it can be recognized indirectly that mechanical engineers’ fault is also one of reasons which led to this disaster. Initially, Ford Company decided to reduce production period from 43 months to 25 months, which brought massive pressure to engineers. However, engineers ought not to help companies make profit blindly within a limited time instead of ignoring engineering ethics. It is mentioned in the National Society of...
References: De George RT, 1981, ‘Ethical Responsibility of Engineers in Large Organizations: The Pinto Case’, Business & Professional Ethics Journal, Vol. 1, no 1, pp. 1-14.
Flammang, JM, 1994, ‘Ford Pinto rear-impact defect’ in when technology fails: significant technological disasters, accidents, and failures of the twentieth century, ends Schelager and Neil, pp. 156-162.
Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science, 2005, Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science, viewed 8 May 2012,
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