Top 10 Engineering Mistakes

Top 10 Engineering Mistakes
May 7, 2019 Prime Engineering

Engineering mistakes can be costly. Designs, structural integrity and tolerances are often triple checked, and then checked again for safe measure, but sometimes mistakes are made. At Prime Engineering, we take the necessary precautions to ensure that our work is guaranteed, so that failures such as these below, don’t occur. Here are the top 10 engineering mistakes in history:

Baron wasteland

1. Chernobyl

If you haven’t heard about the worst nuclear disaster in history, you must have been living under a rock. On April 26, 1986, one of the reactors at the nuclear plant exploded. This led to an evacuation of 350,000 people and devastating after-effects, including more than 30,000 premature cancer deaths. There was much to learn from this event and safety features have been significantly updated since the worst man-made disaster in history.

2. Titanic

It was fabled as the greatest ship ever to be built in 1912, stretching over 240 metres and weighing in at 46,000 tonnes. The ship suffered a fatal blow to the hull after colliding with an enormous iceberg in the Atlantic. Several researchers blame material failures and design flaws for the quick descent to the bottom of the sea bed. High sulphur content in the steel combined with the low water temperature meant that flooding could not be contained. Again, safety regulations have been updated to ensure this never happens again.

3. Challenger Space Shuttle

On January 28, 1986, the Challenger space shuttle, broke apart not long after takeoff, killing all 7 of the astronauts on board. The massive engineering failure all boiled down to the resiliency of rubber O-rings after a severe coldwave swept through Florida the night before the launch. The Rogers commission denounced the NASA organisation, as well as listing that several engineers had expressed their concerns about the strength and reliability of the seals for years beforehand.

4. The Collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

An engineering marvel that was initially a milestone for modern engineering capabilities. The bridge was the first to use plate girders to support the roadbed, as well as the first cable suspension bridge. Unfortunately, the engineers who designed it did not account for aeroelastic flutter, a massive mistake which would be the cause of its demise.

Siren warning lights

5. The Hindenburg Disaster

The airship disaster that put a halt on airship construction and travel, altogether. A fire broke out, killing all 36 people on board including crew members. Investigators claimed that the reason for the blaze was due to an electrostatic discharge which ignited leaking hydrogen gas.

6. Charles de Gaulle Airport Collapse

This reflects one of the biggest engineering failures to date. Not long after opening in 2004, a huge portion of the roof in Terminal 2E collapsed. During the collapse, 4 lives were lost and upon the initial inquiry, experts claimed there were no faults. This led to a further, more in-depth inquiry, which found that the roof was nowhere near strong enough to support the metal pillars. The terminal was reconstructed after the disaster, costing upwards of $120 million.

7. Cleveland Gas Explosion

In 1944, it was common practice for industries to store their gas tanks above ground. At the time, one such tank containing liquified natural gas was leaking, which mixed with sewer gas and air, spreading and subsequently igniting, killing 130 people. This led to a reform in the way gasses and tanks were stored.

8. Hyatt Regency Hotel Walkway Collapse

This disaster is riddled with engineering mistakes from the outset. On July 17, 1981, two vertical walkways collapsed in the lobby takings the lives of 144 people. This failure was a grave engineering mistake and the engineers who worked on and approved the designs were convicted of gross negligence and misconduct.

9. St. Francis Dam Flooding

This dam was built between 1924 and 1926, to create a large reservoir for the residents of Los Angeles. The monster dam was located around 64 Km from the city, but upon failing on March 12, 1928, sent a wave over 36 metres high down the canyon, killing over 600 people. At the time, this was one of the worst engineering disasters in American History.

10. The Tay Bridge Collapse

At over 3.5 Km long, the first railway bridge of Tay in Scotland came crashing down one night during a violent storm, as a train was crossing it. Sir Thomas Bouch was responsible for the design but did not take wind loading assistance into the equation. The result: a ruined reputation and many lost souls due to another engineering mistake.

At Prime Engineering, we take our work very seriously. We stand by the work we do and with over 29 years of experience, our reputation speaks for itself. Contact us via telephone (07) 3217 0555 or use our contact form if you an enquiry.