Structural failures occur from time to time, as seen from the recent (January 2006) rash of roof collapses in Germany, Poland, and Russia. However, many engineering and engineering technology students are not made aware of these failures in their analysis or design courses. In the author’s structural analysis and design courses, students are required to research specific structural failures, and to report on these failures, detailing the causes of failure - illustrated with pictures and free-body diagrams, and any lessons learned. Articles on several structural failures are posted regularly on the course website to draw the students’ attention to these failures and their consequences, as well as any lessons learnt; discussions of these failures on the course website discussion forum is also strongly encouraged. Our hypothesis is that studying specific structural failures has a positive impact on students’ learning experiences. To verify this hypothesis, an end-of-term student survey was conducted in two structural design courses where failure case studies were used. Analysis of the survey results indicates a positive impact of failure case studies on students’ educational experiences and awareness of ethical issues. The use of failure case studies in more engineering technology courses is also recommended.
Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit
Department, Program, or Center
Civil Engineering Technology Environmental Management and Safety (CAST)
Adekoya, Alex and Patel, Jimmy, "The use of failure case studies to enhance students’ understanding of structural behavior and ethics" (2006). Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus