CSE4317 Individual Presentation Topics
Whistle Blowing [Bowyer, Chapter 7]
- The Challenger incident. The Challenger incident is an
excellent example for a modern case study. Although the Challenger
incident is covered in one of the reprinted articles, the coverage there is
quite brief relative to the importance of the incident. A great deal of
information relating to the Challenger incident has been published.
Boisjoly's personal account appears in Ethical Issues in Engineering
(Prentice-Hall, 1991). Richard Feynman's account of the Challenger inquiry
appears in the February 1988 issue of Physics Today. Read these and
other accounts of the Challenger incident and report on the role of the
whistle blowers. [Additional Assignment #1, page 243, Bowyer, 2nd edition.]
- The software-engineering side of the Star Wars project. David
Parnas is a well-known and highly respected professor and senior researcher
in software engineering. The Star Wars (or Strategic Defense Initiative)
system was proposed by President Reagan as a shield against nuclear attack.
The concept was that missiles sent toward targets in the United States
would be detected and destroyed before they arrived. In May 1985, Parnas
was asked to serve as a member of an advisory panel to SDI that would make
recommendations about research and development for the computing-systems
side of SDI. At the consulting rate of $1,000 per day (in 1985), this was
a plum appointment. However, he soon resigned from the panel and became a
firm opponent of SDI (see article in Winter 1987 issue of Abacus
published by Springer-Verlag). Report on his concerns and the reaction to
his whistle blowing. [Additional Assignment #2, page 243, Bowyer, 2nd
- The Three Mile Island reactor cleanup. The partial meltdown
that occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was the worst
accident to date in the U.S. nuclear power industry. The cleanup of this
accident became, in effect, a major applied research project. Many new
special-purpose pieces of equipment were designed and built for the task.
Ed Gischel, Rick Parks, and Larry King were engineers on the cleanup
project who became concerned that corners were being cut to meet deadlines.
S. Unger's book Controlling Technology: Ethics and the Responsible
Engineer (John Wiley and Sons, 1984, 2nd edition) provides and overview
of this incident and a number of additional references. Report on the
details of this incident and the effects on the careers of the whistle
blowers. [Additional Assignment #6, page 243, Bowyer, 2nd edition.]
- Frederic Whitehurst blows whistle on FBI. Frederic Whitehurst,
the whistle-blower who triggered an overhaul of the FBI's world-renowned
crime lab and claimed he was singled out for retaliation, left the bureau
with a settlement worth more than $1.16 million. Report on the details of
this incident, the settlement, and what Whitehurst is doing now.
- Whistle-blowing suit against Blue Cross Blue Shield. Evelyn
Knoob filed a lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act in 1995, alleging
fraudulent practices by her employer Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.
Report on the details of the incident, the result of the lawsuit, and
Knoob's current situation.
- Jeffrey Wigand blows the whistle on the tobacco industry.
Jeffrey Wigand, whose story was made popular by the movie The
Insider, blew the whistle on the tobacco industry. In 1995, Wigand was
the star witness in the State of Mississippi's lawsuit against the tobacco
industry seeking reimbursement for the cost of smoking-related illnesses.
Report on the details of this incident, the outcome of the lawsuit, the
effects on Wigand's life and career, and the effects on the tobacco
- Whistle blower exposes hospital drug thefts. In July 1998, the
Harris County Hospital District in Houston was ordered to pay over 2
million dollars to fired pharmacist Edward Eduok. Eduok, a Nigerian
immigrant, was fired in 1995 after providing information that led to the
conviction of three hospital officials involved in a drug theft operation.
Report on the details of this incident and the outcome of the trial.