Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. v-v

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Introduction: Why?

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pp. 1-9

On the second Tuesday of September 2001, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center returned to dust, taking with explore our beliefs—about religion, surely, but also about politics and social systems, and even about technology. As we search for answers to the deceptively simple question “Why?” we may find ourselves in difficult and troubling territory. As the New York Times...

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1. “A Very Imperfect Process”: Engineering Problem-Solving 101

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pp. 10-35

As the dust settled and the fires died at Ground Zero, a group of engineers climbed over the piles of debris that had been sent by barge to the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, looking for clues to what had happened on that clear September morning. They had come as part of a hastily convened investigative panel...

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2. “Finding Hope in the Ruins”: A Short History of Engineering Disasters

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pp. 36-61

In part, what the engineers responding to 9/11 were wrestling with was not only how to respond to the collapse of the Twin Towers, but how to make sense of the collapse at all. What did the devastation at Ground Zero say about the engineering profession? What role does failure have in expertise? It is one thing to say that we should learn from past failures. It is another to suggest that fail-...

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3. “A New Era”: The Limits of Engineering Expertise in a Post-9/11 World

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pp. 62-81

On April 5, 2005, the National Institute of Standards and Technology announced the findings of its own, more thorough and long-delayed version of the FEMA/ASCE study. Gene Corley approvingly noted that the “results of the NIST team’s extensive study are in close agreement with the fi ndings of the FEMA/ASCE...

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4. “Safe from Every Possible Event”: How to Strive for the Impossible

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pp. 82-99

Architect Minoru Yamasaki knew that the more open and flexible he could make his floor plans for the Twin Towers, the more desirable the buildings would be to prospective tenants. But how can one build 110-story towers without support columns scattered throughout each fl oor? The engineers’ answer lay in concentrating...

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5. “Architectural Terrorism”: Why Moderation Matters

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pp. 100-114

Consider a pair of questions routinely asked by Professor Siva Vaidhyanathan at the start of a course on globalization that gained new meaning in the wake of September 11, 2001. Vaidhyanathan routinely began the class by asking students, “What would you die for?” and “What would you kill for?” When asked in the days before 9/11, the questions were, according to Vaidhyanathan...

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6. “These Material Things”: Passion and Power in Engineering

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pp. 115-134

The 16-acre bathtub that once served as the foundation of the World Trade Center became on September 11, 2001, a vessel for enormous grief. The most searing form was that felt by family and friends who lost loved ones in the tragedy. Those of us fortunate enough not to have known victims personally were pained by the loss of so many fellow...

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Conclusion: “More Time for the Dreaming”: Engineering Curricula for the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 135-140

So what are the characteristics of engineering? It is interconnected, complex, ambiguous, passion-filled, messy, people oriented, and ultimately, hard. It is hard not so much because it is filled with equations, but because it is filled with equivocations. That is not to suggest engineering is misleading, yet without respect for the complexity of the endeavor, one can be misled into faulty...

Acknowledgments

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pp. 141-144

Notes

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pp. 145-175

Recommended Reading

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pp. 177-179

Index

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pp. 181-186