An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.” – Niels Bohr
Welcome to Engineering Failures. This site is dedicated to case studies in engineering design, construction, operation, maintenance, management, and interface with non-engineering organizations and personnel.
“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. Indeed, failures appear to be inevitable in the wake of prolonged success, which encourages lower margins of safety. Failures in turn lead to greater safety margins and, hence, new periods of success. To understand what engineering is and what engineers do is to understand how failures can happen and how they can contribute more than successes to advance technology.” (To Engineer is Human – The Role of Failure in Successful Design, by Henry Petroski).
“There will always be failures or disasters as engineers and designers push the boundaries by building taller buildings, longer bridges, or by reaching further into space. Each time there is a failure or disaster, changes are made and regulations introduced only to be outstripped by further developments.” (Hard Lessons, by Nick Spurrier, 20 April 2009, The Institution of Engineering and Technology).
The intent of this site is to serve as 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.
The EFO Staff