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Engineer/ Author Henry Petroski Speaks at College Writers House

Why do bridges fail? Why did concrete fall in Boston's Big Dig? Why did the levees give in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina?

Distinguished engineer and author Henry Petroski has made a career of examining failure and success in design and will discuss those explorations in a talk at the Writers House at Merrimack College at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include a Q&A and reception.

An engineer who specializes in failure analysis, Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering at Duke University and has written 18 books, including his first, “To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design.”  His writing has also explored the history of industrial design in everyday objects, such as pencils, paper clips and toothpicks. His most recent books are “To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure” and “The House with Sixteen Handmade Doors: A Tale of Architectural Choice and Craftsmanship.” He is also a columnist for American Scientist and Prism.

About his work, The New York Times writes: “From (Henry Petroski’s) vantage point, failures in design and construction present perfect teaching opportunities. They are object lessons in the history and practice and beauty of engineering.”

And Publishers Weekly notes: “Henry Petroski delivers a lesson in the price of progress and another perceptive look at the relationship between man and his stuff.”

The Writers House at Merrimack is dedicated to creative writing, reading, and thinking, and is a resource for students, faculty, alumni, and the community at large.

Please see more information and directions.