And it may just be incompetence

I was reading today about why engineering is inherently more honest than science and disagreed with a commenter that this was so.

Thinking about it reminded me of a story. I can tell it here without getting into trouble because no one will ever see it.

I’ve known brilliant engineers with novel inventions who should never have been trusted to run a lemonade stand. The best example was a PhD civil engineer I used as a contractor once. Instead of doing his part of the project the traditional way, we allowed him to use his proprietary method. This worked great technically but not so well from a business perspective. Shortly after paying the PhD, we started getting calls from his subcontractors. They had not been fully paid. By the time we paid the subcontractors, it would have been cheaper for us to do it the old fashioned way. I never did figure out whether that PhD was a business idiot for not being able to pay his subcontractors because he priced his product too low or a crook with no intention of ever paying his subs.

The same thing applies to Solyndra. They had a novel technology that looked great when the price of silicon was high. Then they built a new fabrication plant just as the price of silicon was falling. Did they really believe that they could continue to compete in a changing market or were they just trying to ride the gravy train as long as possible? Who knows? What is certain that honest engineering got them in the end.


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