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Failure Case Studies: Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Welcome to the case studies project.

In this project, innovative course materials for teaching engineering design and analysis through failure case studies will be developed. This project will support the integration of research in forensic engineering into undergraduate education.

At this site, you will find an introduction to the overall project and a bibliography. You will also find typical civil engineering and engineering mechanics courses, with case studies listed.

This web site is a companion to the book Beyond Failure: Forensic Case Studies for Civil Engineers, Delatte, Norbert J., ASCE Press, published in 2009. See the ASCE Bookstore for more details.

The web site is a living document that will supplement the book with web links, additional information, and supplemental illustrations. At this time, not all of the cases have been filled in yet.

This web site was originally developed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, with further development at Cleveland State University.

Every year from 2003 to 2010, faculty workshops on teaching with failure case studies have been held. Information on future workshops is provided through the Workshop link below.

Workshop Announcement: Using Failure Case Studies to teach Engineering and Ethics

This workshop will address the how and why of integrating failure case studies into introductory engineering, engineering mechanics, civil engineering, and other types of engineering courses. The focus is on using the case studies to improve student engagement and learning, as demonstrated through a number of extended examples. Assessment methods and results will be presented, along with ways that failure case studies may be used to support ABET outcomes, particularly for the professional component of the curriculum. Participants will receive a CD of case study PowerPoint presentations. The cases cover contemporary and historic failures of bridges, dams, and buildings, as well as other engineered systems. We will also provide an introduction to web-based tools such as the wikis and on-line discussion forums to assist with the student’s learning experience.

No cost for university faculty. To register, please send an email to Norb Delatte at n.delatte@csuohio.edu

When and where? Wednesday, November 13, 2013 from 9 am to 4 pm. The location is the beautiful and historic National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. located at 401 F Street NW Washington, D.C. 20001 (http://www.nbm.org/)

Sponsored by the ASCE Technical Council on Forensic Engineering, the National Science Foundation, and the National Building Museum

Project Web Page Sections:

Building Failures
Bridge Failures
Construction Failures
Dam Failures
Earthquake Failures
Environmental Failures
Other Failure Cases



Principal Investigator:

Norbert Delatte, P.E., Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, Stillwell Hall, Euclid Avenue at East 24th Street, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio 44115

Telephone: (216) 687-9259

Fax: (216) 687-5395

For questions or comments about this project, email [n.delatte@csuohio.edu]

Cleveland State University Delatte faculty web page


Research Sponsors:

Much of this material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grants No. EEC-9820484, DUE-0127419, DUE-0536666, and DUE-0919487. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The support of the National Science Foundation is greatly appreciated. NSF Web Site

[National Science Foundation]


This project is being carried out in cooperation with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Technical Council on Forensic Engineering Education Committee. ASCE Web Site.

[American Society of Civil Engineers]



This project was conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and at Cleveland State University.

University of Alabama at Birmingham logo
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Cleveland State University logo
Cleveland State University


Disclaimer: it is common to have honest differences of opinion about causes and responsibility for failures. The opinions expressed on this web site are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the National Science Foundation, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, or Cleveland State University.

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