The concept of failure … is central to understanding engineering, for engineering design has as its first and foremost objective the obviation of failure. Thus the colossal disasters that do occur are ultimately failures of design, but the lessons learned from those disasters can do more to advance engineering knowledge than all the successful machines and structures in the world.” (To Engineer is Human – The Role of Failure in Successful Design, by Henry Petroski).
- Engineering Failures – a source of case studies in engineering failures whereby the reader can reflect on the root causes that led to the failure and use that knowledge to advance the field of engineering.
- Top 10 Worst Disasters in Engineering * 1970′s DC-10 Disasters * R101 Airship Disaster * Skylab * The Boston Molasses Disaster * The Vasa * St. Francis Dam Flooding * Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Disaster * Hyatt Regency Hotel Walkway Collapse * Cleveland East Ohio Gas Explosion * Tacoma Washington Bridge Disaster
- 11 Modern Day Engineering Disasters
- 10 Worst Roller Coaster Disasters
The Science Love Song…
We can take it fast or really slow
But we can’t know with certainty where we’ll go
If at first we don’t succeed, we’ll try two more times
So our failure’s a statistically significant try
Some organizations specializing in failure analysis
- National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) – 10 most wanted list
- Failure Analysis
What’s the problem?
Tacoma Narrows Bridge (video 4:12) – The Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened to traffic on July 1, 1940. Its main span collapsed into the Tacoma Narrows four months later on November 7, 1940, due to a physical phenomenon known as aeroelastic flutter caused by a 42 mph wind. This video is still shown to engineering, architecture, and physics students as a cautionary tale.
- Ask – What were the factors that caused the bridge to fail? What did engineers learn from this?
- Imagine – What were all the things that might have cause the bridge to fail? Many believed this was an example of elementary forced resonance with the wind providing an external periodic frequency that matched the natural structural frequency, but was not the actual cause.
- Design, Build – The cause of the bridge’s failure was determined to be aeroelastic flutter. The towers and side spans—which survived the collapse of the main span were damaged beyond repair.
- Improve – Its failure also boosted research in the field of bridge aerodynamics/aeroelastics which have themselves influenced the designs of all the world’s great long-span bridges built since 1940.
- Dependability, or reliability, describes the ability of a system or component to function under stated conditions for a specified period of time
- system, component, failure, analysis, reliability, dependability, design, case studies