A good introduction to this topic,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design (Taschenbuch)
I have to admit that I am a fan of the author's works, so this review may be biased.
I agree with previously posted reviews here that this work is repetative and covers engineering failures at a very high level. However, I believe that this is an important work for those that do any type of complex design or work with designs.
I am not an engineer -- I'm an information systems professional who believes that professionals should be able to review failures, even those of other professions, to better address risk in future projects. The author does a great job of introducing this concept in this book's preface:
"...I believe that an understanding and appreciation of engineers and engineering can be gotten without an engineering or technical education.... I believe that the concept of failure - mechanical and structural failure in the context of this discussion - is central to unerstanding engineering, for engineering design has as its first and foremost objective the obviation of failure. Thus the colossal disasters that do occur are ultimately failures of design, but the lessons learned form those disasters can do more to advance engineering knowledge than all the successful machines and structures in the world."
Take the word engineering out of the above quote and insert any profession there and the quote still works.
I found particularly erie the background on the Comet, the first commercial jet aircraft. In the the chapter on Forensic Engineering, Petroski tells of a early Nevil Shute novel, _No Highway_, in which Shute tells a very, very similar _fictional_ story about a failed commercail aircraft called the Reindeer. I did not know that Shute was an aero engineer working for de Haviland at the same time as the Comet design. Shute is best known for his work _On the Beach_.
Of interest to other information systems professions is the chapter entitled From Slide Rull to Computer: Forgetting How It Used to be Done.
The bibliography of 11 pages may also be of interest to anyone researching this subject.
This Petroski work is a good introduction in to his other works, as well as the topic of failure analysis....especially if you aren't an engineer.
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