Idiot Engineering #2 - Star Trek: The Next Generation
2015 August 08

Idiot Engineering is exceptionally visible in the ships of Star Trek. This article will focus on Star Trek: The Next Generation, because each of the series has more than enough engineering failures for one of these articles. From the many console explosions to frequent warp core breaches, the engineers of the Enterprise-D made many failures in design and the writing of emergency procedures. The designers of the Enterprise made many serious engineering flaws, and this article will investigate those errors in design.

Some of the flaws are extremely glaring, like how bridge consoles explode when the ship is hit. That is a massive failure on the part of the EE, who decided to wire large amounts of power through a control console. Really, why should a control console explode. It should all be low-voltage solid state circuitry which is very stable and does not explode on a whim. The bridge should be one of the safest areas on the ship, and this totally negates the possibility of the bridge being a remotely safe place to be in a battle, and who’s going to command the ship if all the senior officers are dead.

Another glaring flaw is putting the bridge on every single starship in Star Fleet at the top of the ship where it can easily be strafed or shot at. A properly placed bridge would be very close to the center of the starship, where it has layers upon layers of metal protecting it. However, this error is forgivable as lots of sci-fi franchises make this same mistake.

However, the other errors all pale in comparison to the greatest error of them all. The complete and utter lack of consideration for error recovery in the warp reactor system. The only solution when they have a problem with the warp core is to eject the whole core, and leave them stranded. That is a brilliant idea. They couldn’t think of a method to stop the reaction, or let it run out on it’s own. That is unacceptable, because right now we have reactors that will not meltdown like the molten salt reactor design, because a reaction cannot be sustained outside of the containment vessel. Why isn’t the Enterprise’s warp core designed the same way to keep the reaction from occurring outside of the reactor vessel? The whole lack of error recovery and fault prevention in the warp core is outrageous.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is filled with little engineering errors that add up to a disaster waiting to happen. From exploding bridge consoles to warp cores designed to fail, the Enterprise-D is an OSHA nightmare. What were the engineers thinking when they built such a system? These engineering failures are only acceptable for a ship that will never face combat, but the Enterprise-D is military ship meant for exploring the unknown. It shouldn’t have to deal with these internal failures when they have other thing to worry about like killer AIs and brain eating aliens. As such, the Enterprise-D is an engineering disaster, and not fit for duty under Star Fleet, however it would make an excellent cruise ship.

*****
Written by Henry J Schmale on 2015 August 08