Easy To Understand Failure

by Don Friedman on March 7, 2017


My discussion of learning from failure relied on verbal argument. People who prefer infographics are in luck, as Ohio University has provided civil engineering failure in an easy-to-digest form. (Thanks to Compact Equipment for the link.)

The Quebec Bridge is a fascinating example. The original design was inadequate but that’s not the direct cause of the collapse, which killed 75 iron workers. The direct cause is that the designers literally did not believe reports from the site that there were problems with steel beams bending under excessive load. By the time those concerns were addressed, it was too late. In other words, the effects of the incorrect design were visible before the collapse, but poor project management took over. Poor design and good management would have led to construction stopping until the problems were addressed; good design and poor management would have led to a slowly-built and over-cost bridge. Poor design and poor management were a fatal combination.

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