Engineering experts talk about famous failures

Aaron Frasier

By Aaron Frasier

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Two guest speakers talked about engineering failures throughout history to a full auditorium at Snell Hall on Tuesday night.

Jon Wren and Dennis McCann, leading forensic engineers from Exponent Engineering firm, investigate failures related to engineering, medicine, the environment, biomechanics and human tragedies.

In their presentation, they discussed many famous events they’ve investigated to figure out why they failed, including the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, the Great Chicago Flood, and the collapse of the March Bridge.

By discussing these failures, Wren and McCann said they were showing students the seriousness of checking their work to make sure things are right.

“You can do your work fast, cheap, or good,” McCann said. “Only two of those three can work together. They all three don’t work.”

They said their presentation was also meant to show how minor mistakes can cause major consequences, .

“This presentation shows case studies of engineer failure to show what it takes to be a forensic engineer,” McCann said.

Bowling Green senior Shawn Pardue said he was impressed with the speakers and thought they were really qualified.

“There are a lot of small things that aren’t covered by the news that you never even know about,” Pardue said.

Wren and McCann said they were pleased with the opportunity to speak at WKU.

“The audience asked excellent questions,” Wren said. “They were very engaged and interested.”

Wren and McCann left the audience with lessons they have learned from their work: Minor mistakes have major consequences, check your information and think beyond the code.