Engineering Failures (Man-Made Disasters)

Introduction to Guide

This guide is designed for students in WRIT 102 for Engineers. You will find links to engineering failure case studies, tutorials on using OneSearch and the Catalog. If you are still looking for a topic idea, you can use the topics tab to help you look for ideas.

Engineering Failure Factors

Typically, engineering failures occur due to one (or combination) of the following:

  • Human factors (ethical failure or accidents)
  • Design flaw (perhaps including ethcial failures)
  • Extreme conditions or environments (perhaps unforeseen during design)
  • Material failures

To Engineer is Human

"Thus it is the essence of modern engineering not only to be able to check one's own work, but also to have one's work checked and to be able to check the work of others. In order for this to be done, the work must follow certain conventions, conform to certain standards, and be an understandable piece of technical communication."
           - Henry Petroski, from To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design

"Willingness to cope with imponderables is one thing that separates engineers from scientists, but it is imponderables that can provoke failures."

                   - from When Technology Fails, edited by Neil Schlager