This course is open only to non-engineering majors. High school math and science are adequate for understanding of the material. 

This course will introduce students to topics of stresses and strains, their importance in determining safety, and the severity of cracks in structural members, as well as the concept of fatigue in assuring structural safety. Some of the major structural Failures worldwide will be identified and researched as to the circumstances leading up to the failures. Reasons for failures will be investigated. It is expected that ten such failures will be identified early in the course. Some example possible failures to be researched and analyzed would be the collapse of the Silver Bridge between Ohio and West Virginia on Christmas Eve, the failure of the structure of the Aloha Airlines flight that essentially landed as a convertible airplane, the collapse of the walkway in Kansas City, the failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington, the collapse of the bridge on Interstate 95 in Conn., and the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York after 911. The actual cases to be examined will be determined by the students taking the class.

The course will have some lectures devoted to the failure mechanisms and whenever possible the class will go into the lab to experience the type of failure that occurred and learn about what can be done to prevent that type of failure.

Testing Machines in the Keystone Labs in the J M Patterson Building will be used for the laboratory component of the work.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to

• Understanding from a layman’s viewpoint why things fail to perform as designed

• Understand ethics with regard to engineering design

• Understand how materials behave under load

• Understand the importance of using failures to improve product performance

• Learn how to think critically about media portrayals of engineering failures

• Learn to accurately express scientific principles both orally and in writing

Assignments include:

• Listing of 10 most important engineering failures

• Selection of Disaster to be studied and why chosen

• Internet survey of materials on the failure

• Summary of literature searched (both internet and library based)

• Analysis of data from laboratory sessions and how it applies to failure studied

• Report on types of failures felt to be most important

• Oral Presentation to class on failure studied in detail

• Final report on disaster studied

• How engineering ethics should be factored into every design

Readings include:

Success Through Failure: The Paradox of Design. (2006), ISBN 978-0691136424