Roger Williamson, Mishaps: “Houston, we’ve had a problem”

Posted by on Tuesday, June 6th, 2017 in Blog

Reported by Laraine Lasdon

President Dale Lowe called the meeting to order. Adam Borger led the pledges, Barry Curlee gave the invocation, and Lois Ann Stanton led the Four Way Test. Guests and Visitors were greeted at the top of the stairs by Sylvia Holmes, and Carl Noble introduced them.

We welcomed our newest member Michael Duecy who was sponsored by Joe Breeland!

After announcements about the Changing of the Guard party on June 20th and the next Wine tasting hosted by Nadir Abdeladim, Laraine Lasdon and Don Grillo came up to introduce our Rotary Peace Scholar candidate. This was followed by Jim Bryce who gave a Global Awareness Update about visiting other Rotary Clubs when traveling.

We then heard from 10 of our members during the Thank Goodness Basket: Adam Borger, Jim Bryce, Adrian Moore, Don Grillo, Ron Greening, Mark Johnson, Bob Bowman, Mike O’Krent, Sara Pantin and Stanley Bullard. Nadir Abdeladim then made a generous $100 donation!

Tom Howard introduced speaker and member Roger Williamson who spoke about Mishaps, continuing from last week’s presentation.

Roger began by letting an empty red cup fall off the podium (after showing us a red cup with water in it) and sent papers flying to show how some mishaps have no significant consequences.

However, others have financial and life threatening consequences. For example on what he termed a “bad day” during one of his launches Roger almost arranged for 5 helium tanks instead of 6 which could have aborted the scientific launch. Thankfully he caught the error in time.

Other “Bad Day” examples included when a smaller launch machine was set on a stand with no bolts to hold it down! It fell over and cost NASA $20M. Another was when the Mars orbiter crashed into Mars (note word “Orbiter”). This was a $285M “mishap”.

In a list of what could be learned about accidents the critical issue of “human error” was way down on the list. Instead, technical issues were listed such as: o-rings, debris management and foam issues. Roger mentioned a time he was walking around the shuttle and noticed the poor condition on some parts. When he reported it he was told it was normal.

Roger also told of his experience in analyzing aviation accidents. He said there is a Rule of Three and NASA has triple redundancy to review everything, but this this does not address the issue of the organization’s culture in responding to the human factors.

“Humans make Mistakes” is a key factor he found after he conducted mathematical tests and models to try to understand why accidents happen. He showed several slides and a video demonstrating that even we, in the audience, can make mistakes and misread measurements that fool the eye.

Many studies have been conducted on this topic and most conclusions are that the key to success is, in fact, Leadership.

President Dale thanked Roger and adjourned the Meeting.

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