To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design

To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design

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by Henry Petroski
     
 

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How did a simple design error cause one of the great disasters of the 1980s -- the collapse of the walkways at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel? What made the graceful and innovative Tacoma Narrows Bridge twist apart in a mild wind in 1940? How did an oversized waterlily inspire the magnificent Crystal Palace, the crowning achievement of Victorian architecture and… See more details below

Overview

How did a simple design error cause one of the great disasters of the 1980s -- the collapse of the walkways at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel? What made the graceful and innovative Tacoma Narrows Bridge twist apart in a mild wind in 1940? How did an oversized waterlily inspire the magnificent Crystal Palace, the crowning achievement of Victorian architecture and engineering? These are some of the failures and successes that Henry Petroski, author of the acclaimed The Pencil, examines in this engaging, wonderfully literate book. More than a series of fascinating case studies, To Engineer Is Human is a work that looks at our deepest notions of progress and perfection, tracing the fine connection between the quantifiable realm of science and the chaotic realities of everyday life.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
Here is a gem of a book. Engineering professor Petroski raises the concept that past failure in engineering design is the handmaiden of future success and innovation. He discusses some monumental failureslike the collapse of elevated walkways in a Kansas City hoteland shows how they led engineers to advance their art to meet new needs. One chapter declares, ``Falling Down Is Part of Growing Up.'' His examples are mostly the honest-mistake kind, and not the sloppy design and testing, for instance, that results in recalls of new autos. But in marvelously clear prose, he gives valuable insight into the limits of engineering and its practitioners. A fine book for general and history-of-technology collections alike. Daniel LaRossa, Connetquot P.L., Bohemia, N.Y.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679734161
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/28/1992
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
472,256
Product dimensions:
5.17(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.55(d)

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