There are no specific reasons due to which disasters happen in the field of science and technology. The engineers who put the foundation stones for a given construction of a building, roads, railways, dockyards, bridges or any other engineering monuments put in their hard efforts before actually carrying out their work. However, sometimes due to miscalculations, or due to mismanagement or due to shortcuts applied in the engineering design can lead to the engineering disasters (Dunbar & Garud, 2009). The thesis of this report will discuss on learning the key lessons from the engineering disasters and considering the recommendations that will avoid such disasters in the future.
Engineering is the field of science and technology that helps in meeting the different demands and needs of the society. These demands basically include construction of bridges, buildings, vessels, aircrafts, computer hardware and software, tunnels, and such other monuments. But, since it involves a lot of costs and time, the engineers need to prepare the design in such a way that, it will not only utilize the newer technology, but also the entire design will be cost-effective in nature.
The engineers and the respective managers of a given project will be thereby carrying out a proper research before constructing the building. They however, might sometimes apply shortcuts or miscalculate certain things to reduce the costs of construction (Dunbar & Garud, 2009). As a result, such buildings and monuments will lead to design failures, and thereby, further leading to the engineering disasters.
What can be learn from disasters made by engineers?
It has been observed that, the engineers place a lot of emphasis on the factors of safety since they need to protect people of the nation from the disasters. But, if safety tests and precautions such as tensile test, sample tests, and finite element analysis are not carried out properly, it can lead to the failures in a given construction.
Failures generally occur when either the design is in fault or when inappropriate or excessive materials are used for a given structure. As a result, the limits of a given design are exceeded and will thereby start exhibiting improper functioning. There could also be miscalculations regarding loading, strain and stress, due to which the structure will start to deform. The other factors that contribute to the failure of a given structure include improper use, a flawed design, miscommunication, mismanagement and financial costs.
The failures to a given structure can happen due to failures in the static loading, fatigue, miscommunication, and mismanagement as discussed earlier. It is the responsibility of the engineers to look after defect static load tests such as bending tests, tensile testing, and torsion test that will determine the maximum load that a give structure can withstand.
The engineers should ensure that these limits are not crossed or else it will lead to deformation or the failure of these structures. There is a need to calculate stress-strain curve, which will determine the total yield strength of a given test structure (Norton, 2011). The engineers are required to calculate material’s ultimate tensile strength, which determines the maximum stress level, after which the structure will break. Hence, the engineers need to be careful of this issue.
There could be failures due to fatigue, which actually starts occurring during the manufacturing process itself. There are three stages in it, which include - crack initiation, crack propagation and sudden fracture failure. There could also be failures due to miscommunication, since constructing of such huge buildings include large teams. Hence there is a need to communicate precisely and accurately about the numerical details of a given construction (Norton, 2011).
The miscommunication happens due to gaps in the intercommunicating process amongst several teams. These teams are from various fields such as mechanical, civil, environmental, chemical, biological and electrical. Hence, each of these teams needs to work in a collaborative fashion so that that can coordinate on formulating functions and formulas that will be required from the civil engineering perspective. However, if they fail to communicate with each other effectively it will directly affect the design of a given structure. There are several evidences of miscommunication that has ultimately lead to the structure failure.
What mistakes should be avoided by engineers?
There have been several engineering disasters that include the Tay Bridge Disaster in 1889, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse in 1940, the Hyatt Regency Hotel walkway collapse in 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, and the Steamboat Sultana disaster in 1865. All these disasters have occurred due to either crossing over the maximum load capacity, or alternations in the design at the last moment, or due to miscommunication amongst the teams or due to misjudgement in certain calculations (Hibbeler, 2011).
However, the important thing to be noted here is that, it is the people, which suffer the most. Hence, it is necessary for the engineers to realize the fact that, they should carry out a deep-intensive research before going actually for the construction of any building. They should have all the figures ready and should be validated several times from various perspectives. It will ensure smooth functioning of all the activities.
Further, the engineers need to deploy all the tests so that they can check upon the tensile strength, the stress and strain issue and the load balancing factor. They will be able to know how much weight a given test specimen can bear in different conditions. They even need to implement various techniques that will help a given structure to withstand against different weather conditions (Hibbeler, 2011). Further, the engineers need to ensure that, a given structure abides all the norms and laws of the governing environmental authority.
The quality is the biggest issue of the construction, and hence, all the raw materials that are used should be of great quality. The engineers should never compromise on the design and on the quality of the raw materials. It will have a direct impact on the structure.
Thus, on a concluding note, the engineers need to follow strict norms while constructing any given building. They need to consider all the different parameters while constructing a given building. They need to implement all the required tests before opening up the building for the people. They need to check all the environmental parameters and need to follow the norms of the environmental authority. This report provides information on the lessons that can be learnt from the disasters that were made by the engineers and it also provides recommendations on how to avoid the mistakes made by the engineers in such cases. It will ensure safety for the people that will be utilizing these buildings, monuments, and vessels.
Dunbar, R. L. M., and Garud, R. (2009). Distributed Knowledge and Indeterminate Meaning: The Case of the Columbia Shuttle Flight. Organization Studies, 30(4), 397-421.
Norton, R.L. (2011). Machine Design: An Integrated Approach. Boston: Prentice Hall.
Hibbeler, R. C. (2011). Mechanics of Materials. Boston: Prentice Hall.