Why Failure is Important in Engineering

November 14, 2016
Ze Hyun Moon  Troy High School  11th Grade

Ze Hyun Moon
Troy High School
11th Grade

Mistakes are inevitable. Often cumbersome and sometimes devastating, mistakes happen everyday, ranging from doing the homework in pencil when it’s pen only to running over the red light and possibly endangering someone’s life. However, there’s beauty within our mistakes in that we are able to learn and improve from them. Mistakes could be empowering when perceived in a positive way, and we, in fact, have that very power of perception.

Mistakes in the field of engineering is no exception. On July 17, 1898, interior walkway at the Hyatt Regency Hotel collapsed, causing fatalities of over hundreds people. When investigators examined this accident, they found that the cord from the ceiling that was supporting the walkway had been secured by just a single screw instead of double screws that the engineers had originally planned. However, due to limited time and hasty project process, they decided to use a single screw to speed up the building process. If the engineers had designed the beam according to their initial plan, people who were under the bridge could have avoided their tragic deaths. As a result, engineers who were responsible for the walkway got their license revoked. From this disaster, however, we not only realized rash decision that devalues certain responsibility and obligation can be consequential, but also learned that one lazy decision can cause a mass destruction and cost a significant loss of innocent lives.

Also, mistakes lead to new discovery and ultimately deepen our understanding of our surroundings. In 1940, the third longest suspension bridge, collapsed after experiencing a 40 mph wind from the side of the bridges. The suspension bridge was structured so that many people could cross the street. However, investigators found that the prototype of the bridge was very different from the actual model. In fact, although each end of the bridge was designed to withstand strong forces acting upon from the sides, the actual sides of the bridge were not as strong as the prototype illustration. Ultimately, the suspension bridge collapsed because engineers forgot to account one crucial, but elementary, factor of wind blowing from the side. As rudimentary as it sounds, however, the accident served as an important example of careless calculation that alarmed and reminded other engineers to always check for all outliers and possibilities.

Overall, mistakes and failures are one deadly combination that we all want to avoid and prevent. However, it is within our willingness to accept them and commitment to learn and understand the causes and effects of our mistakes that propel us one step closer to a brighter future.



  1. Essay on Engineering

    May 19, 2017 at 3:21 PM

    The part of the designer is to react to a need by building or making something along a specific arrangement of rules (or determinations) which plays out a given capacity. Similarly as vitally, that gadget, plan or creation ought to play out its capacity without come up short. Everything, be that as it may, should inevitably flop (somehow) to play out its given capacity with a looked for after level of execution. Consequently, the architect must battle to plan so as to stay away from disappointment, and, all the more vitally, cataclysmic disappointment which could bring about loss of property, harm to the earth of the client of that innovation, and potentially damage or death toll.

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