Learning From Failure

by Henry Petroski, Dir. of Grad. Studies; Duke Univ., Durham, N.C.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1985, Vol. 55, Issue 2, Pg. 36-39

Document Type: Feature article


Innovative engineering design involves assumptions about the future use and behavior of a structure. By understanding and learning from the infrequent but spectacular large failures, engineers can develop more reliable designs. Several famous failures illustrate the paradox that we learn from failure and that successful designs can prevent future failures.

Subject Headings: Failure analysis | Structural behavior | Engineering profession | Structural failures | Innovation

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