Civil Engineering History Gives Valuable Lessons

by Sara Ruth Watson, Professor-Emerita; The Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1975, Vol. 45, Issue 5, Pg. 48-51

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Many students, and others, feel the study of engineering history is a frill. Not so, this article suggests. A study of the past can give an engineer better ideas on how to solve a new problem, can prevent him from making costly or dangerous mistakes and gives him a sense of esthetics and a feeling for the responsibilities of the profession. The article describes four famous bridge failures and gives some of the lessons learned: the Howe Truss at Ashtabula in 1876; the Tay Bridge disaster in 1879; the first failure of the Quebec Bridge in 1907 and the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. Some influential structures such as the Crystal Palace and the Eiffel Tower are also discussed.

Subject Headings: Civil engineering landmarks | Bridge failures | Civil engineering | History |

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