News Archive

NY Times on engineering disasters

A recent New York Times article in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy entitled ‘Taking Lessons From Engineering Disasters’ provides a rare intrusion of reality into public discourse about engineering. One choice quote illustrates clearly the case that the practice of engineering, even in the modern world, does not rest on an infallible methodology:

Eric H. Brown, a British engineer who developed aircraft during World War II and afterward taught at Imperial College London, candidly described the predicament. In a 1967 book, he called structural engineering “the art of molding materials we do not really understand into shapes we cannot really analyze, so as to withstand forces we cannot really assess, in such a way that the public does not really suspect.”