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"and above all else protect and advance the health, safety, and welfare of the public through the practice of Civil Engineering."


"Why Projects Fail: Quality in The Constructed Project.™"

·             Overview: Understanding and explaining system failures are of paramount importance in engineering However, social considerations are often overlooked, but should play a crucial role in the design, implementation, and in mitigating possible failure of engineered systems. Recent examples of the dangers of overlooking social factors include the structural failure of the Surfside Condominium Complex in Florida in 2021, where combination of structural failures along with conflicting incentives and social pressures for politicians, building inspectors, and condo boards led to the undermining of the structural integrity of the building.                    –"NAE, MAR2024"

·               Selected References

 "To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design," by Henry Petroski

"The Blessings of Disaster: The Lessons That Catastrophes Teach Us and Why Our Future Depends on It," by Michel Bruneau

"Epic Engineering Failures and The Lessons they Teach," by Stephen Ressler

"Quality in the Constructed Project: Guide for Owners, Designers, and Constructors," (Manual of Practice No. 73) (ASCE Manual and Reports on Engineering Practice)," by American Society of Civil Engineers, Third Edition

·               SUGGESTION: Local/regional sections of ASCE, along with their student sections launch study groups, curriculum evaluation study, and seminars to raise awareness of :

·            Where civil engineering education/practice was;

·             Where civil engineering is now; and,

·                 Where civil engineering education and practice needs to go.

Cheers, Bill





03-30-2024 10:22 AM

“Francis Scott Key Bridge collapses in Baltimore”

A Bad System Will Beat a Good Person Every Time[1]

So, what was Dr. Deming trying to convey with this quote? It wasn’t an attempt to get people to give up trying because failure was certain. It was an attempt to get people to understand the importance of the system and the futility of trying to focus on blaming people for failures.

As Deming said we are being destroyed by best efforts”. Trying harder, to do what you understand as your job, when the system is broken often results in more damage. Don’t just do something, stand there (and think).

So, if a bad system will beat a good person every time what can you do? You have to focus not on trying harder within the current system but on changing the system so that success is built into the system. Relying on heroic measures is a poor way to manage.


03-28-2024 07:49 AM

I highly recommend Petroski's book.  While legal and contractual obligations are typically crafted to avoid liability for good reason, such rules and documents should be crafted in a way that encourages best practices in regard to safety.  

The code of ethics is reinforced at the state level as it is in some way attached to licensure requirements.  It is also promoted by the Order of the Engineer.

Unfortunately, with the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, the distinction between public safety and jobsite safety is not present.  

History should not be sidelined as a non-technical field of study.  Current failures are lagging indicators of where we are at.  If engineers do not share their experiences and expertise within the profession or public forum, the narrative will be written by others (or worse AI).