As a Princeton graduate, through the years I have become accustomed to reading about the incredible accomplishments of many of my fellow alumni. In fact, being a Princeton alumnus is a fairly humbling experience. Therefore, it was with some shock when I read the article in The New Yorker by Ben Taub ’14 titled, “The Titan Submersible was ‘An Accident Waiting to Happen’” (July 1, 2023) and learned that the now deceased, former CEO of OceanGate, Stockton Rush, was not only a Princeton alumnus (Class of 1984) but also majored, as I did, in aerospace engineering.
All of us in society have learned of engineering disasters such as the Space Shuttles Challenger (in 1986) and Columbia (in 2003) as well as those that occurred before our time, such as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse (in 1940, the video of which I first saw when I was an engineering student at Princeton) and, of course, the sinking of the Titanic (1912). The list goes on. Now the recent implosion of the Titan submersible (June 2023) will get added to that infamous list of engineering disasters.
I’ll let The New Yorker article speak for itself. Nevertheless, learning what we have about this recent disaster, it might be a good time to review the Code of Ethics of the National Society of Professional Engineers:
Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:
1. Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.
2. Perform services only in areas of their competence.
3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
5. Avoid deceptive acts.
6. Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.
As for Stockton Rush ’84 and the other now deceased occupants of the Titan submersible, may they forever rest in peace.