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Engineering Ethics Case Study: The Challenger Disaster

Engineering Ethics Case Study: The Challenger Disaster
Course Highlights

This online engieering PDH course provides instruction in engineering ethics through a case study of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. The minimum technical details needed to understand the physical cause of the Shuttle failure are presented. The disaster itself is chronicled through NASA photographs. Next the decision-making process, especially the discussions occurring during the teleconference held on the evening before the launch, is described. Direct quotations from engineers interviewed after the disaster are used to illustrate the ambiguities of the data and the pressures that the decision-makers faced in the months and hours preceding the launch. The course culminates in an extended treatment of six ethical issues raised by Challenger.


This 3 PDH online course is intended for all engineers who are interested in gaining a better understanding about the ethical issues that lead to the Challenger disaster and how they could have been avoided.

Learning Objectives

This PE continuing education course is intended to provide you with the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Common errors to avoid in studying the history of an engineering failure: the retrospective fallacy and the myth of perfect engineering practice
  • Shuttle hardware involved in the disaster
  • Decisions made in the period preceding the launch
  • Ethical issue: NASA giving first priority to public safety over other concerns
  • Ethical issue: the contractor giving first priority to public safety over other concerns
  • Ethical issue: whistle blowing
  • Ethical issue: informed consent
  • Ethical issue: ownership of company records
  • Ethical issue: how the public perceives that an engineering decision involves an ethical violation
Course Document

In this professional engineering CEU course, you need to review the course document titled, "Engineering Ethics Case Study: The Challenger Disaster".

To view, print and study the course document, please click on the following link(s):
Engineering Ethics Case Study: The Challenger Disaster (2.5 MB)
Course Quiz
Once you complete your course review, you need to take a multiple-choice quiz consisting of fifteen (15) questions to earn 3 PDH credits. The quiz will be based on the entire document.
The minimum passing score is 70%. There is no time limit on the quiz, and you can take it multiple times until you pass at no additional cost.
Certificate of Completion

Upon successful completion of the quiz, print your Certificate of Completion instantly. (Note: if you are paying by check or money order, you will be able to print it after we receive your payment.) For your convenience, we will also email it to you. Please note that you can log in to your account at any time to access and print your Certificate of Completion.

To buy the course and take the quiz, please click on: