May 02, 2006

(Engineering) Success through Failure

Today's New York Times has an article about the engineer, Henry Petroski, who, they say, "seems strangely enthusiastic about failure."

For him, "... failures in design and construction present perfect teaching opportunities. They are object lessons in the history and practice and beauty of engineering. 'Failure is central to engineering,' he said in an interview. 'Every single calculation that an engineer makes is a failure calculation. Successful engineering is all about understanding how things break or fail.' "

You can read the introduction to Dr. Petroski's book at the Times' site. You can also listen to David Corcoran (a Times science editor) interview him for the Science Times podcast (podcast iTunes feed).

The podcast interview with Dr. Petroski reminded me of Donald Norman's "Psychology of Everyday Things" -- if you liked that book, or the ideas of how things are designed, then you might like this article or podcast.

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