Partial Credit

I’m sitting in my Controls class right now and we were just given a quiz.  Well, some people are still working on their quiz.  I finished.  Pretty straight forward – exactly what the professor said was going to be on it.  Man, wouldn’t it be nice if all my professors taught us something and then quizzed us on what they said they would.  Anyway, entirely different topic.   Before the quiz, some of my classmates inquired/joked about partial credit.  Our prof laughed and then showed us this picture:

JAL787 APU BatteryTaken from NTSB website - no copyright infringements are meant.

JAL787 APU Battery
Taken from NTSB website – no copyright infringements are meant.

I think most of us thought he was just ignoring us.  He asked us if we knew what it was and what happened to it.  For those of you who may not be obsessed with the aviation world and/or get a newletter with this battery as the headline story since the beginning of the year, it’s the battery for the Boeing 787 Auxillary Power Unit.  This caught fire on two seperate occasions for aircraft in service and could have potentially caused mass casualties.  Luckily, no one was injured, but the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB – and maybe my future employer ‘cuz how epic would that be!!!!!) decided to ground the Drealiner (the 787 that is supposed to be the new way of flying and all that) indefinitely until a solution is found as to what is going on with the fires.  Anyway, so he asked us what happened to the battery and so we say it caught fire.  Then he asked how it caught fire.  But before anyone could reply, he says “Partial credit!” 

Interesting.  I’m usually one of those people that complains when professors expect you to be perfect.  It’s insane to think you can work on an assignment for hours on end and get a zero.  The effort you’ve put in.  All that tedious calculating and whatnot all for naught?  Especially if it’s a simple algebra mistake all the way at the end.  It’s absurd!  But then again, maybe it’s not.  Granted, engineers  – among others –  in the professional world have people that check and check and check your work.  But what if no one catches that same mistake?  People’s lives could be at stake.  The number one rule in the Engineer’s Code of Ethics: public safety is paramount. 

Don’t think all of a sudden that I’m no longer for partial credit.  I don’t get someone staring over my work making sure every step is correct on a test or my homework.  I don’t get to double check my numbers or formulas on a one hour test.  But I think now I see the other side a little clearer.  Just something to think about.

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