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lemming
April 24th, 2006, 07:23 PM
My coworker today was wishing he could remember the name of this classic engineering / human factors SF story. He believes it's Golden Age or a little bit later.

Basically, an engineer is assigned to land a shuttle-type thing (or possibly fix it, but I think just land it). The shuttle is supposed to be designed perfectly. But the engineer finds that almost everything in the shuttle is annoying. Air ducts blow air into his eyes, there are lights everywhere that say red for okay and green for not okay, and there are a host of underlying problems as well. The engineer finds cardboard to tape over the ducts, finds some black paint and paints over all the lights, fixes something and manages to land the shuttle.

Unbeknownst to him (at least at first) the whole thing was a test. When he lands, he's told that "he got the job". He asks what job, and it's something like lead engineer for this giant company. He's told that he's the only person who landed the shuttle -- everyone else had just written reports.

I've never heard of this story (though, frankly, it sounds a bit boring, like something I might easily have read and forgotten when I was younger). Anyone else remember it, and know the title or author?