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Engineering Failures of the 20th & 21st Centuries: Databases & Web Resources

Linda Hall Library has one of the best engineering collections in the country. This research guide highlights some resources in our collection related to selected engineering failures of the last 100 years.

Why Failures?

"It is both a sad and a happy fact of engineering history that disasters have been powerful instruments of change. Designers learn from failure. Industrial society did not invent grand works of engineering, and it was not the first to know design failure. What it did do was develop powerful techniques for learning from the experience of past disasters."

-- Edward Tenner, Why Things Bite back: Technology and the Revenge Effect

The Ill-Fated Titanic


The Ill-Fated "Titanic" Being Docked at Belfast Prior to Her Entry in Service.  Shipping Illustrated:  VOL. XXXIX. - No. 494.  New York, Saturday, April 20, 1912.

Web Resources

Titanic (1912)

NOAA:  R.M.S. TITANIC 100 Years Later

St. Francis Dam (1928)

Failure of the St. Francis Dam

Tacoma Narrows Bridge (1940)

Lessons From the Failure of a Great Machine

Love Canal (1978)

Love Canal Press Releases and Articles

Three Mile Island (1979)

Dickinson College's Three Mile Island web site

Kansas City Hyatt Regency Walkways (1981)

The Kansas City Hyatt Regency Skywalk Collapse

Bhopal (1984)

Bhopal Information Center

Space Shuttle Challenger  (1986)

NASA's Challenger STS 51-L Accident

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (1986)

Chernobyl Accident

World Trade Center (2001)

FEMA's Investigation

Space Shuttle Columbia (2003)

NASA Honors the STS-107 Crew

New Orleans Levees (2005)

USGS Scientists Investigate New Orleans Levees

Free Databases

Subscription Databases

These databases are available in the Library at our Public Workstations or via our WiFi network.