Engineering Mistakes & Ooopsy Daisy's

I was watching a documentary on iPlayer last night about the Genoa Bridge collapse that killed 43 and although the investigation has not been concluded yet it appears that the method of encapsulating the cable stays in concrete which allowed the cables to rust may have been at fault.
1573847100245.png

During the Program you see the Hammersmith Flyover which needed work to stop it from collapsing and 3 Bridges that did collapse in the U.S.A with resulting loss of life.

We put a lot of faith in Engineers to keep us safe from almost everything we use in our everyday life but history shows us that many, many things fail on a regular basis but not enough in numbers to create a huge concern or cause panic. But happen they do, this Taiwan bridge collapsed in October.
1573848132571.png


The Florida FIU bridge last year was blamed on design errors:

"calculation errors by designer FIGG Bridge Engineers – and an engineer's failure to recognize the importance of cracking before the collapse – contributed to the tragedy, the board said."FIGG Bridge Engineers severely underestimated the demand on the bridge, significantly overestimated the bridge’s capacity ... among other calculation errors," NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. "But another structure failed in this accident, the structure of public safety oversight."
1573848453019.png


So my question is:
Should we feel safe?
Why do engineers still get things wrong?
What other 'fails' can we highlight - including and not limited to: Civilian Tragic & Military fails which we should be respectful about, or the historic 'Ooooops' wasn't expecting that?
 
Starting with this Tragedy in California St. Francis Dam (California)

The 1928 failure of the dam which resulted in the deaths of over 450 civilians was attributed to a series of human errors and poor engineering judgment. Due to the tremendous loss of life and property damage estimated to be $7 million, some consider the failure of the St. Francis Dam to be the “worst American civil engineering disaster of the 20th century.”
1573849411334.png

William Mulholland was a “self-taught” engineer who had achieved national recognition and admiration between 1906 and 1913 when he orchestrated the design and construction of the Los Angeles-Owens River Aqueduct, the longest water conveyance system at the time. In addition, during his time as a supervising engineer, Mulholland had overseen the completion of numerous embankment dams. Mulholland’s experience in concrete dam design, however, was lacking. Prior to the design and construction of the St. Francis Dam, he had only participated in the design of one other concrete gravity dam. Mulholland Dam, which was named in his honor, is a curved concrete gravity dam of similar height, constructed between 1923 and 1925. Although his experience resided primarily in the design of embankment dams, Mulholland proposed that a concrete gravity dam would be the proper structure for the canyon terrain across which St. Francis would be built.

Multiple instances of poor judgment by Mulholland and several of his subordinates significantly contributed to the cause of the failure of St. Francis Dam. Plans for the dam were based upon those previously prepared by Mulholland for the Mulholland Dam with little regard for site-specific investigations. When these plans were finalized and after construction began, the height of the dam was raised by ten feet on two separate occasions in order to provide additional reservoir storage needed to sustain the growing community surrounding the dam. Although these modifications increased the dam’s height by twenty feet, no changes were made to its base width. As a result, the intended safety margin for structural stability decreased significantly. Mulholland’s team recognized this effect, however the engineering analysis, acquiring of additional materials, and extended construction time to properly mitigate the height increase were considered to be too costly to the project and to those stakeholders who were financially invested in the completion and operation of the dam.

St. Francis Dam failed at midnight on March 12-13, 1928 only twelve hours after its last inspection by Mulholland. For a considerable period leading up to the last inspection, leaking cracks were observed within the main dam and at its abutments which were dismissed as conditions typical of the dam type.

When investigating the cause of failure, it was clear that the proposed St. Francis Dam design was not reviewed by any independent party. It was also clear that it was designed to prevent small foundation stresses only and not accommodate full uplift. It is estimated that the design exhibited a safety factor less than one while Mulholland claimed it was designed using a safety factor of four.

After admitting it was his fault and killing 450 people Mulholland was sentenced to taking a job in another Department.
 
Starting with this Tragedy in California St. Francis Dam (California)

The 1928 failure of the dam which resulted in the deaths of over 450 civilians was attributed to a series of human errors and poor engineering judgment. Due to the tremendous loss of life and property damage estimated to be $7 million, some consider the failure of the St. Francis Dam to be the “worst American civil engineering disaster of the 20th century.”
View attachment 430393
William Mulholland was a “self-taught” engineer who had achieved national recognition and admiration between 1906 and 1913 when he orchestrated the design and construction of the Los Angeles-Owens River Aqueduct, the longest water conveyance system at the time. In addition, during his time as a supervising engineer, Mulholland had overseen the completion of numerous embankment dams. Mulholland’s experience in concrete dam design, however, was lacking. Prior to the design and construction of the St. Francis Dam, he had only participated in the design of one other concrete gravity dam. Mulholland Dam, which was named in his honor, is a curved concrete gravity dam of similar height, constructed between 1923 and 1925. Although his experience resided primarily in the design of embankment dams, Mulholland proposed that a concrete gravity dam would be the proper structure for the canyon terrain across which St. Francis would be built.

Multiple instances of poor judgment by Mulholland and several of his subordinates significantly contributed to the cause of the failure of St. Francis Dam. Plans for the dam were based upon those previously prepared by Mulholland for the Mulholland Dam with little regard for site-specific investigations. When these plans were finalized and after construction began, the height of the dam was raised by ten feet on two separate occasions in order to provide additional reservoir storage needed to sustain the growing community surrounding the dam. Although these modifications increased the dam’s height by twenty feet, no changes were made to its base width. As a result, the intended safety margin for structural stability decreased significantly. Mulholland’s team recognized this effect, however the engineering analysis, acquiring of additional materials, and extended construction time to properly mitigate the height increase were considered to be too costly to the project and to those stakeholders who were financially invested in the completion and operation of the dam.

St. Francis Dam failed at midnight on March 12-13, 1928 only twelve hours after its last inspection by Mulholland. For a considerable period leading up to the last inspection, leaking cracks were observed within the main dam and at its abutments which were dismissed as conditions typical of the dam type.

When investigating the cause of failure, it was clear that the proposed St. Francis Dam design was not reviewed by any independent party. It was also clear that it was designed to prevent small foundation stresses only and not accommodate full uplift. It is estimated that the design exhibited a safety factor less than one while Mulholland claimed it was designed using a safety factor of four.
There is a BBC documentary on William Mullholland presented by Patrick Kielty. I'll see if I can link it. By the by, ISTR that the eponymously named road from the title of the movie "Mulholland Drive" is named for the bloke.

ETA LINK to the doco here but not currently available. Some pics of othet LA water stuff though.
 
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philc

LE
From memory the Genoa bridge was a new design with the metal work incased in concrete. Hence they could not see the steel deteriorate, now they have sensors on the steel, listening in To many bridges.

So from the incident, lessons learnt, move on the same being for cars, planes, rockets and trains.
 

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
Back in the late 60s my father a civil engineer was all over the place taking samples from buildings, I used to go with him and assist in making the tea cleaning the van and losing tools etc
I remember long circular sections of concrete being stored in plastic tubes, and lots of rusty metal within
High Alumina Cement
the stuff was supposed to set very quickly and aid in the building of bridges , walkways and buildings
the trouble was it didnt set so quickly inside an corroded the re inforcing rods leading to fractures
one bridge we drilled already had large crack visible when up close on the tower scaffold
lots of them were done out of hours to avoid alarming the public, and when rail lines were out of use
 
I was watching a documentary on iPlayer last night about the Genoa Bridge collapse that killed 43 and although the investigation has not been concluded yet it appears that the method of encapsulating the cable stays in concrete which allowed the cables to rust may have been at fault.
View attachment 430385
During the Program you see the Hammersmith Flyover which needed work to stop it from collapsing and 3 Bridges that did collapse in the U.S.A with resulting loss of life.

We put a lot of faith in Engineers to keep us safe from almost everything we use in our everyday life but history shows us that many, many things fail on a regular basis but not enough in numbers to create a huge concern or cause panic. But happen they do, this Taiwan bridge collapsed in October.
View attachment 430389

The Florida FIU bridge last year was blamed on design errors:

"calculation errors by designer FIGG Bridge Engineers – and an engineer's failure to recognize the importance of cracking before the collapse – contributed to the tragedy, the board said."FIGG Bridge Engineers severely underestimated the demand on the bridge, significantly overestimated the bridge’s capacity ... among other calculation errors," NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. "But another structure failed in this accident, the structure of public safety oversight."
View attachment 430391

So my question is:
Should we feel safe?
Why do engineers still get things wrong?
What other 'fails' can we highlight - including and not limited to: Civilian Tragic & Military fails which we should be respectful about, or the historic 'Ooooops' wasn't expecting that?
Here in UK the CDM regulations are powerful drivers to high safety standards in construction.

Other legislation covers engineering outside of construction.

Procurement processes for construction projects are usually very robust, requiring evidence not assurance on the integrity of the supply chain whether uk based or not.

A key feature of the most recent iteration of CDM is placing criminal responsibility upon the client for failures in appointment of designers and contractors.

I've been involved in this for nearly 20 years and there's been steady improvement, certainly in major projects, especially in the last few uears.

/political dig/ of course, Mr. Johnson would like to unshackle uk business from burdensome legislation /dig/
 
So from the incident, lessons learnt, move on the same being for cars, planes, rockets and trains.
It's not always the case of lessons learnt lets move on though is it?
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
My confidence in engineers is unshakeable

1573850813082.png
 
I've been involved in this for nearly 20 years and there's been steady improvement, certainly in major projects, especially in the last few years.
Without question Safety and Regulations have lessened the odds of project failure and CAD will improve designs even more and that is a good thing.
 
From memory the Genoa bridge was a new design with the metal work incased in concrete. Hence they could not see the steel deteriorate, now they have sensors on the steel, listening in To many bridges. So from the incident, lessons learnt, move on the same being for cars, planes, rockets and trains.
For the record, this thread isn't about disparaging Engineers who do a fantastic job on millions of projects everyday it's a thread about when things go wrong.
 
A tragic oops and not an engineering fault but worthy of a mention. Thirty-five people died when the bridge over Tampa Bay that joined St. Petersburg and Bradenton in Florida collapsed after it was hit by a cargo ship at 7:33 a.m. May 9, 1980. A car is perched precariously on the wrecked Sunshine Skyway Bridge in 1980. ... The ship crashed into the bridge, killing 35 people on May 9, 1980.

1573851787927.png

... The ship crashed into the bridge, killing 35 people on May 9, 1980.
1573852062482.png
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
For the record, this thread isn't about disparaging Engineers who do a fantastic job on millions of projects everyday it's a thread about when things go wrong.
Mate I work on the railway and in 30 years I’ve seen some howlers
 

sapper_steve

Clanker
Sorry @Spank-it and @Joshua Slocum and @Spec-op1989 but I don't share your optimism. My experience is that we are spending less time checking and double checking and the original design work is done by less qualified staff than was normal practice. (Just for context - and not for willy waving, I started my training as an apprentice in 1975 and I hold 3 Chartered level qualifications and I also work as a PD with my CMaPs). I am very hopeful that CDM 2015 will be re-written to include the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackett and that they are not left in a re-write of the Building Act. (btw I dont post often and I wont be replying in the normal robust manner associated with ARRSE). - Oh and @Joshua Slocum I work in the SW penninsula, so most of the horrors I have seen are in your manor...).
 
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Here in UK the CDM regulations are powerful drivers to high safety standards in construction.

Other legislation covers engineering outside of construction.

Procurement processes for construction projects are usually very robust, requiring evidence not assurance on the integrity of the supply chain whether uk based or not.

A key feature of the most recent iteration of CDM is placing criminal responsibility upon the client for failures in appointment of designers and contractors.

I've been involved in this for nearly 20 years and there's been steady improvement, certainly in major projects, especially in the last few uears.

/political dig/ of course, Mr. Johnson would like to unshackle uk business from burdensome legislation /dig/

Because the guy that isn't an engineer should be responsible for any failure in engineering instead of the actual engineers, the bodies that regulate the engineers, and the schools and government that 'assure' they are properly educated. That's improvement alright.
 
Sorry @Spank-it and @Joshua Slocum and @Spec-op1989 but I don't share your optimism. My experience is that we are spending less time checking and double checking and the original design work is done by less qualified staff than was normal practice. (Just for context - and not for willy waving, I started my training as an apprentice in 1975 and I hold 3 Chartered level qualifications and I also work as a PD with my CMaPs). I am very hopeful that CDM 2015 will be re-written to include the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackett and that they are not left in a re-write of the Building Act. (btw I dont post often and I wont be replying in the normal robust manner associated with ARRSE). - Oh and @Joshua Slocum I work in the SW penninsula, so most of the horrors I have seen are in your manor...).
Because those black box computer aided design systems don't let the engineers hang the pipe and electrical through the fire breaks in the environmental systems ducting, oh wait, they obviously have all the even more important and involved potential stresses covered so can be fully trusted to simulate reality, therefore it isn't the computers fault, the nonmath engineer that simulated the structure, the school that misundereducated him, the body that certified him, or the government that allowed him to practice, it is obviously the fault of the guy that trusted him... oh wait.
 
Because the guy that isn't an engineer should be responsible for any failure in engineering instead of the actual engineers, the bodies that regulate the engineers, and the schools and government that 'assure' they are properly educated. That's improvement alright.

I'm pretty sure that you don't really know what you are talking about.
 
When it was built in 1977, Citicorp Center in Manhattan NY was, at 59 stories, the seventh-tallest building in the world. The architect of Citicorp Center was Hugh Stubbins, but most of the credit for this building is given to its chief structural engineer, William LeMessurier.

1573855166067.png

It was an ingenious, cutting edge design. And everything seemed just fine—until LeMessurier got a phone call.
from an undergraduate architecture student making a bold claim about LeMessurier’s building. He told LeMessurier that Citicorp Center could blow over in the wind.

The student (who has since been lost to history**) was studying Citicorp Center as part of a thesis and had found that the building was particularly vulnerable to quartering winds (winds that strike the building at its corners). Normally, buildings are strongest at their corners, and it’s the perpendicular winds (winds that strike the building at its face) that cause the greatest strain. But this was not a normal building.

LeMessurier had accounted for the perpendicular winds, but not the quartering winds. He checked the math, and found that the student was right.

LeMessurier and his team worked with the Citicorp higher-up to coordinate emergency repairs on the building. With the help of the NYPD, they worked out an evacuation plan spanning a 10 block radius. They had 2500 Red Cross volunteers on standby, and three different weather services employed 24/7 to keep an eye on potential windstorms. They welded throughout the night and quit at daybreak, just as the building occupants returned to work.

All of this happened in secret. Even as Hurricane Ella was racing up the eastern seaboard.

Hurricane Ella never made landfall. And so the public—including the building’s occupants—were never notified. And it just so happened that New York City newspapers were on strike at the time.

The story remained a secret until writer Joe Morgenstern overheard it being told at a party, and interviewed LeMessurier. Morgenstern broke the story in the New Yorker in 1995.

**The BBC aired a special on the Citicorp Center crisis, and one of its viewers was Diane Hartley. It turns out that she was the student in LeMessurier’s story. She never spoke with LeMessurier; rather, she spoke with one of his junior staffers.
 
A civil engineer of my acquaintance introduced me to the acronym CATNAP.
Cheapest Available Technology; Narrowly Avoiding Prosecution.
 

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