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TTC - Stephen Ressler - Epic Engineering Failures and the Lessons They Teach


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[b] TTC - Stephen Ressler - Epic Engineering Failures and the Lessons They Teach[/b]
Size: 12.63 GB Type: Elearning Year: 2022 Version: 2022


Course Overview

When a structure fails, the fallout can be frightening, disruptive, and even deadly. And yet, these disasters also teach us valuable lessons about the possibilities of engineering-and how to make our future projects safer. In the same way that a military defeat might provoke strategic changes and new approaches, engineering failures pave the way for improvement in the ways that we design, build, and maintain our technological systems. But first, we must figure out what went wrong.

On the evening of Friday, July 17, 1981, a band was playing in the atrium of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel. About 1,600 people had gathered for that night's popular tea dance. Women in elegant dresses and men in pressed suits danced on the atrium floor, while observers admired the festivities from walkways suspended above. Suddenly, the highest walkway tore loose and, along with the walkway two levels below, crashed to the atrium floor. Over 100 people were killed, and many others were injured.

Speculation began immediately as to the cause of this tragedy, which remains to this day one of the worst structural failures in US history. In the aftermath of the accident, United Press International sent word to its thousands of news outlets that "foot-tapping revelers" might have touched off a rhythmic vibration which caused the walkways to collapse. The New York Times story was headlined: "Before Hotel Disaster, Walkway Swayed to the Rhythm of Dancers." Some officials were quoted as saying the walkways might have been overcrowded and unable to bear the combined stressors of weight and movement.

None of that turned out to be true. In Epic Engineering Failures and the Lessons They Teach, you will go behind the scenes of painstaking and captivating investigations that not only reveal what actually caused the tragedy in the Hyatt Regency that night, but also explore the catalysts for more than 24 other epic engineering failures. Your professor, civil engineer and award-winning educator Stephen Ressler, PhD, reveals the story behind each disaster by demonstrating the scientific and engineering issues involved with easy-to-follow explanations accompanied by fascinating videos, live demonstrations, and hundreds of custom-made models and graphics. Professor Ressler also examines the less technical and more human components of error-the individual personalities and sometimes dysfunctional organizations that led to catastrophe. In addition, he asks a startling question: Can we move forward as a civilization without these engineering failures?

Engineering Basics

Professor Ressler is fascinated with engineering and our built environment-and with his clear explanations and demonstrations, you'll find his fascination contagious. In Epic Engineering Failures and the Lessons They Teach, you will learn about the functional aspects of the built environment that you see every single day but may never have questioned. Consider the building you're in right now: How is that building supported on the ground? How does your local highway bridge carry tens of thousands of vehicles every day and how is that immense weight distributed? Even if you live in an area without any waterways, certainly you've seen pictures of majestic suspension bridges. How do those suspension cables really work?

As you study each of the engineering failures presented in this course, you'll have an opportunity to learn about the principles involved in the design and destruction of these systems, including:

Load is a force applied to an object. Load is a factor in many engineering failures, including the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse.
Resonance is an uncontrollable oscillation that occurs when a periodically applied force amplifies the natural vibration of a structure. Resonance played a role in the Loma Prieta earthquake disaster, as your professor will demonstrate.
Corrosion is the degradation of a metal caused by a chemical reaction with its environment. It was corrosion that contributed to the collapse of the Silver Bridge in West Virginia.

Standard Procedure-For a Reason

In a general sense, engineering is the process of creating technological solutions to fulfill human needs. And whenever engineers design a structure-from a bridge to a floodwall to a space station-they follow a standard six-phase process: developing a design concept, estimating the loads, analyzing the structural response, choosing the configuration and material used for each element, building the structure, and then operating and maintaining it. Engineering failures generally occur when one or more of these phases go awry, either immediately or decades into the future. For this reason, Professor Ressler has used this six-phase process as the organizing framework for the course. For example:

Phase One. The Dee Bridge disaster was caused primarily by a major flaw in the design concept itself.
Phase Three. The collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was caused by an unanticipated structural response.
Phase Five. The collapse of the Senior Road Tower wouldn't have happened if the general contractor had fulfilled their supervisory obligations during construction.

By analyzing engineering disasters in the context of these phases, we can focus more clearly on the causes of failure and the corrective actions needed to prevent future failures from happening.

Personalities Galore

While engineers certainly use math, physics, and technology in their development of designs and in construction, it is people who make decisions, people who approve plan changes, and people whose bosses might have goals different than their own. As your professor explains, engineering always comes down to the people involved. In this course, you'll meet the medieval builders who constructed the tallest man-made structure on Earth-for four years, until its collapse. You'll meet present-day engineers who work to understand why structures sometimes experience unexpected movements. You'll meet several capable engineers from previous centuries who did their best to create safe structures with the limited scientific tools of their day.

But you'll also meet some engineers and designers who were a bit more self-interested. For example:

Amasa Stone, a prominent 19th-century entrepreneur and self-taught bridge engineer. He decided to build an iron bridge in Ohio-at least in part to generate business for his brother, who operated an iron-rolling mill. But he used a structural system that had been developed for wood, not iron, and his Ashtabula Bridge collapsed in 1876, killing 92 people.
Helmut Jahn, a 20th-century architect whose design for Kansas City's Kemper Arena was so innovative that he won an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. When a 43,000-square-foot area of the roof collapsed three years later, Jahn insisted that the fault could have nothing to do with the structure itself. As you will see, he was wrong.
Anatoly Dyatlov, the deputy chief engineer of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. An electrical-not nuclear-engineer, he was the senior person in the control room on the night of the Reactor 4 explosion. Until his death, he maintained that the explosion was caused by the flawed reactor design, not by any of the poor decisions he made that night.

Is there any way we can move forward without continuing to make mistakes that cost so many lives, from the astronauts lost in the Challenger disaster due to bureaucratic dysfunction to the more than 1,800 lives lost due to the ineffective hurricane protection system in New Orleans? There is one way we could reduce the likelihood of such epic failures in the future-stop innovating, and only use the same design concepts and the same materials repeatedly. But that's just not who we are. If we continue to act on our very human desire for technological progress, then we will sometimes reach beyond our abilities. As shown in this course, however, we can and do learn from our mistakes, ultimately, making the world a safer place.



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