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by Henry Petroski Summary & Review

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1 by Henry Petroski Summary & Review

2 Executive Summary Author sets out to define engineering
Secondary goal is to show the challenges Design inadequacies-miscalculations Manufacturing variability Material performance variability Unknowns Illustrates the difficulties of engineering through stories Mental model development of adolescents Bridges, buildings, aircrafts, and ship failures February 9, 2004 Luke Wissmann

3 Review Good book for a layman that wants to understand why seemingly “stupid” design get built Good book to help the technically minded engineers simplify the difficulties of engineering design Superbly written with interesting examples February 9, 2004 Luke Wissmann

4 Engineering and Failure
“… this book is my answer to the questions ‘What is engineering?’ and ‘What do engineers do?’” Failure is central to understanding engineering—Engineering design is about identifying and eliminating failure modes “Pursuit of Innovation” causes failure Human tastes, resources, and ambitions February 9, 2004 Luke Wissmann

5 Children and Toys “No child articulates it, but everyone learns that toys are mean. They teach us not the vocabulary by the reality of structural failure and product liability.” “We learn that not everything can be fixed.” February 9, 2004 Luke Wissmann

6 Hypothesis “Theories entered into the scientific cooking contest are known as hypotheses, and the process of judging is known as the testing of hypotheses.” “The process of engineering design may be considered a succession of hypotheses that such and such an arrangement of parts will perform a desired function without fail….if it is used as intended” February 9, 2004 Luke Wissmann

7 Success is Foreseeing Failure
“Pre-rational age of structural design” reliance on physical experiment and mid-construction correction February 9, 2004 Luke Wissmann

8 Design and Planning a Vacation
One can improve the success of a vacation by anticipating what can go wrong The more radical the plan, the more anticipating must be done Only one design can be built, just like only one route must be chosen for a trip February 9, 2004 Luke Wissmann

9 Revision “The work of the engineer is not unlike that of the writer. How the original design for a new bridge comes to be may involve as great a leap of the imagination as the first draft of a novel. The designer may already have rejected many alternatives, perhaps because he could see immediately upon their conception that they would not work for this or that reason. Thus he could see immediately that his work would fail. What the engineer eventually puts down on paper may even have some obvious flaws, but none that he believes could not be worked out in time.” February 9, 2004 Luke Wissmann

10 “The paradox of engineering design is that successful structural concepts devolve into failures, while the colossal failures contribute to the evolution of innovative and inspiring structures. However, when we understand the principle objective of the design process as obviating failure, the paradox is solved.” February 9, 2004 Luke Wissmann

11 Two Favorite Quotes: “We could virtually end all risk of failure by simply declaring a moratorium on innovation, change, and progress.” “The computer is both a blessing and curse for it makes possible calculations once beyond the reach of human endurance while at the same time also making them virtually beyond the hope of human verification.” February 9, 2004 Luke Wissmann

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