Practically from the day I started writing for this magazine, readers have told me, "Don't just tell us about the success stories, tell us about the failures, too."
As any journalist can appreciate, that's a pretty big order to fill. There's a natural tendency for all of us to publicize our accomplishments and kick the stuff we'd prefer not to talk about under the rug.
Fortunately, we have been able to come close to fulfilling your thirst for the dark underbelly of engineering—thanks to our wildly popular back-page column "Calamities." In each issue, a forensic engineer presents a true story that involves some sort of a product or equipment failure—taken from his actual case files. In this month's column, author Myron Boyajian tells the story of a bucket hanging on the dipper arm of an excavator that got away.
The column normally begins by revisiting the scene of the crime, recounting the investigation, and then (usually) fingering the culprit. Nothing can top the denouement of a Perry Mason episode when the perpetrator jumps up in the courtroom and shouts out his guilt. But based on the fan mail the column's two talented authors get, you obviously find the cases to be entertaining and extremely addictive readings.
Check out our archive of dozens of cases—ranging from a hippie who gets squashed under a load of paneling (that pesky center of gravity thing!) to an underworld mob case involving a sawed-off shotgun—at http://rbi.ims.ca/4387-536.
While many of these cases wind up being operator error, pure stupidity, a manufacturing problem, or an aftermarket or service-related blunder, nearly all involve some sort of lessons and useful information for engineers. In the end, that's the whole point.
It's also the point of our upcoming technical conference on materials and fastening on March 30, 2005. Part of our extensive E2E engineer-to-engineer initiative, this one-day, online event consists of a series of webcasts and interactive discussions to choose from—on a host of materials-related topics, including wear and friction, structural performance, thermal management, and chemical resistance. In addition, you'll have a chance to network with your peers, get your questions answered by our materials and fastening gurus, and visit our virtual library chock full of must-have technical information.
You also don't want to miss my exclusive interview with keynote speaker Dr. Ken Russell, Professor Emeritus of Metallurgy at MIT, and one of the authors of our Calamities column. He'll recount some of his most notorious cases (including the one involving a reputed mob leader's sawed-off shotgun), describe some of the latest trends in materials, and take questions from the audience. Now that's an offer you can't refuse!
So sign up now at http://rbi.ims.ca/4387-537, and see ya there!