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We Don't Cover Up Our Mistakes

by Cecilia Wigley
DATE: 07/30

A typical day includes going to a lot of meetings. I spend half of my time going to meetings. The rest of the time is spent writing reports, answering engineering questions, overseeing hardware building and reviewing documents.

What happens a lot is that in the middle of a test, the hardware doesn't function correctly. This has happened with jet engines and test conductors. When something doesn't work correctly we do a lot of brainstorming and try to determine what we can do to fix the problem. We try to do what we need to in order to stay on schedule, but not blow the budget.

Sometimes we have to admit that something didn't work and we have to go back and do it again. Part of our reputation is that we do not try to hide our mistakes and we own up to problems that occur. We provide solutions to problems and the worst thing is to try to cover up mistakes.

I have been involved in 10 successful missions and the patches and stickers on my wall represent missions that I have played some role in. The successes far outweigh the problems. But in the final outcome, we can say that we did what we needed to do, the scientists got what they needed, and we were part of the different aspects of a mission.


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