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Design Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgment in Engineering Paperback – May 27 1994
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"This book is now on my list of required reading for all engineering students." IEEE Spectrum
"...draws on examples from the 4th century BC onwards to identify common features in engineering failures, and offers guidance on how to avoid failure while encouraging innovation...extremely well documented and illustrated...can be read by all those interested in engineering, not just structural engineers." New Scientist
"...nicely done and the case for using engineering history to comprehend the nature of design is well made...the general reader will be well served, especially because the case histories are so interesting and well presented in themselves..." Nature
"...Petroski makes the case for investigating classic and historical case studies rather than recent design failures, the analysis of which is often complicated by ongoing litigation and distortions or, even more critically, by court-imposed secrecy...provides a cogent argument for reintroducing engineering history..." Robert Mark, School of Architecture, Princeton University, Science
"...should be required reading for all engineering students and all practicing design professionals..." Journal of the Performance of Constructed Facilities
"...discusses several models to explain how errors are introduced in design and how designers can prevent similar mistakes from occurring. Case studies present historic and recent examples of engineering failures..." Civil Engineering
"...the anecdotal nature of the paradigms presented is intended to evoke associations with the real situations in which designers find themselves every day." Mechanical Engineering
"...students of all branches of engineering can learn from the case studies presented. Not only engineering students but also practicing engineers will learn from the book." Choice
"The intention of Petroski's book is to present an incontrovertible paradigmatic argument for the value of case histories, ranging from the ancient to the modern, in illuminating and elucidating the causes and results of human error in the design process, mostly of structures. The further stories, including those about many well-known bridge failures, will prove fascinating and intelligible to the non-technical reader." Times Higher Education Supplement
"Highly recommended." ASME International
From classical temples to twentieth century towers, engineers have learned more about design from failure than from success. By showing how errors were introduced and how they might be avoided, this book suggests how better design quality and reliability may be achieved.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
The concept of failure is central to design process, and it is by thinking in terms of obviating failure that successful designs are achieved. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
The book itself is very easy to read and provides several essential lessons for Engineers in any discipline. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Engineering design or the history of Engineering (specifically it's failures!).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I can attest that the lessons which emerge from Dr. Petroski's study of structural engineering failures have proved valuable throughout my career, particularly when designing bridges which pushed the envelope. Indeed, any engineer aiming to be innovative in any way needs to temper that laudable ambition with a serious and even somber study of how things have gone wrong in the past, and this book is an excellent vehicle for that purpose.
Beyond the study of engineering failure, as a fringe benefit, the book also provides nice discussion of important episodes from the history of structural engineering. Such historical perspective is usually lacking among engineers both in practice and academia. Yet this is a subject which engineers would ideally be exposed to throughout their careers, not just during the leisurely and retrospective years of retirement.
To give a balanced review, allow me to point out a few minor negatives. First, the writing style is sometimes a bit stuffy, and a more plainspoken style would have made the book more appealing. Second, there's a good bit of repetition throughout the book; shortening and focusing the book would have improved it. Third, the case studies mostly involve bridges; this will obviously please bridge engineers, but will reduce appeal for readers seeking a more diverse range of case studies.
In sum however, the book is an excellent and valuable contribution from Dr. Petroski, and we should be especially thankful that it exists considering the lack of literature on this important topic, especially at a scholarly level.
Highly recommended for bridge engineers and other structural engineers at all stages of their careers - indeed, a "must read."
Read this precious book to understand why.
Although somewhat dated (considerting we are in 2006) - the basic tenets still apply. Be forewarned - you need to read it with an open mind and a willingness to be brutally honest about your answers when the author poses some questions to you.
With such a paradigm, you will find the book full of value in understanding the types of errors we make as humans. Once you recognize these, preventing them can become feasible. But, just realizing that is not enough, you will need to change (which is very hard to do) some habits that the workplace has built into you over time.
Enjoy - and be error free...if you can, if you care...
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