Good ideas with bad execution, or good execution of what should be bad ideas - an analysis of inferior, off-beat or malfunctioning products, and how other people's failures can help us design better stuff.
Engineering's Ten Biggest Mistakes
News this week of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge got us thinking about famous engineering screw-ups: “The original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, dubbed Galloping Gertie, was the world’s third-longest suspension bridge when it opened on July 1, 1940. It collapsed in a windstorm about four months later, becoming famous as “the most dramatic failure in bridge engineering history.” Most engineers are familiar with this notorious bridge incident, having learned about it in a basic physics course. See some great video here. Coming up with ten examples of engineering-gone-wrong was a challenge, as the culprit of so many calamities is not bad engineering (safety factors at work here), but rather a motley assortment of organizational incompetence, exaggerated marketing claims, and operator error and misuse. Here are our picks, in no particular order: 1. Tacoma Narrows Bridge 2. Big Dig Tunnel (Boston, MA) 3. Ford Pinto 4. Bridgestone/Firestone Tires 5. Space Shuttle Challenger 6. London Millenium Footbridge 7. Aloha Airlines Flight 243 8. Hyatt Regency Walkway (Kansas City) 9.Maytag Front-Load Washing Machine 10.Denver Airport Baggage Handling System And just for fun, here’s a photo of the mold problem implicated in the Maytag recall, thanks to a frustrated former Maytag customer, Thomas F. McLoughlin (who as a VP of Engineering knows something about good product design!).Tags: baggage handling system, bridge 2, bridge engineering, galloping gertie, maytag recall