Skip Navigation
search: People Opens New Window | Departments Opens New Window | Penn State Opens New Window | Web Opens New Window
Penn State mark
Penn State mark
University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Engineering Science (E SC)

E SC 123S Catastrophic Failures--First-Year Seminar (1) First-year seminar that explores design deficiencies through the study of case histories of a number of famous failures.

E SC 123S Catastrophic Failures (1)

Engineered Systems sometimes fail in catastrophic ways. Bridges collapse, buildings bum, airplanes explode, ships break in two, spontaneous combustion occurs, automobiles crash, etc. Virtually all such failures occur because the designers, builders, and or the users have overlooked some unexpected combination of inputs (they seldom fail due to simple overload). For example, a bridge designer may have overlooked (a) the potential danger of aerodynamic loading and mechanical resonance; (b) having a bridge mooring struck by a tugboat; or, (c) the possibility of an earthquake. The ship designer may not have expected a combination of very cold weather and large waves or bad materials, etc. This seminar explores design deficiencies through the study of cash histories of a number of famous failures such as the explosion of the Challenger (modern era) and the sinking of the Titanic that caused catastrophic loss of life. A primary objective of reliving such failures is to alert students to the myriad factors that must be considered for a safe and effective engineering system, and to encourage them to broaden their education so that they will not repeat the mistakes of the past in their own careers.

General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2000

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


Look up course abbreviations

Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

Skip Popular Searches
  1. Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements
  2. General Education: United States Cultures and International Cultures
  3. Course Index
  4. Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin
  5. General Education: Arts
  6. General Education: Humanities
  7. General Education: Health and Physical Activity
  8. General Education: Natural Sciences
  9. General Education: Social and Behavioral Sciences
  10. General Education: Writing/Speaking