March 12, 2021
Peter Moore, P.E., F.ASCE, ENV SP, LEED AP
President, Chen Moore and Associates
Last week: I was in primary school, watching a show at Parker Playhouse when the whispers came down the row, “the Challenger exploded.” When we got back to school, the news was nonstop, made even harder because a teacher was on board. This past week, Allan J. McDonald, a rocket scientist and whistleblower who refused to sign off on the launch of the Challenger space shuttle over safety concerns and, after its explosion, argued that the tragedy could have been averted had officials heeded warnings from engineers like himself, died. Thirty-five years later, this is still a lesson on how ethics matter.
Looking ahead: This coming week, the Florida House Civil Justice and Property Rights Subcommittee will hear House Bill 891, intended to limit the liability of engineers that work with urban search and rescue teams. Most people don’t even know that for every 40 people deployed as part of disaster recovery, typically 10% of that team are structural engineers that crawl into the pile to shore the rubble so that first responders can safely search for survivors or recover casualties. Over the last five years, we’ve lost 80% of those engineers as they and their companies worry about lawsuits. We need their help.