It’s fair to say that no failure surprises Henry Petroski. His classic first book, To Engineer Is Human, dealt with failure, as do many of his columns in The American Scientist. “A single failure…is a source of knowledge we might not have gained in any other way.” They reveal “weaknesses in reasoning, knowledge, and performance that all the successful designs may not even hint at.” “The best way of achieving lasting success is by more fully understanding failure.” It’s also the best way of entertaining an audience not necessarily gripped by engineering as a topic.
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