Reviewing and analyzing failures is a crucial element in engineering. As most experienced design professionals know, being able to identify the problem is most often more important than being able to implement well-known solutions. Fundamentally, failure analysis is the diagnosis of the root causes or underlying phenomena of results that are puzzling and costly, such as last year’s collapse of a coal-ash impoundment in Tennessee, or puzzling and tragic, such as the 2007 collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis. So why are too few students being exposed to this kind of critical thinking early in their engineering education?
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.