Mistake Driven Engineering

Posted on May 2, 2006  Comments (1)

Book Cover graphic - Success Through Failure

Engineering a Safer, More Beautiful World, One Failure at a Time by Cornelia Dean:

Success masks failure. The more a thing operates successfully, the more confidence we have in it. So we dismiss little failures — like the repeated loss of a space shuttle’s insulating tiles launchings — as trivial annoyances rather than preludes to catastrophe.

Success through Failure: The Paradox of Design by Henry Petroski – read a sample chapter (from Princeton University Press):

Sometimes, as when a part breaks in two, the focal point for the improvement is obvious. Other times, such as when a complex system runs disappointingly slowly, the way to speed it up may be far from clear. In all cases, however, the beginnings of a solution lay in isolating the cause of the failure and in focusing on how to avoid, obviate, remove, or circumvent it. Inventors, engineers, designers, and common users take up such problems all the time.

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One Response to “Mistake Driven Engineering”

  1. CuriousCat: Contractor Warned NYC About Crane
    March 16th, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

    “A retired contractor warned the city 12 days ago the doomed crane on E. 51st St. wasn’t properly braced, but the Buildings Department blew him off after making a cursory check…”

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