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Success through Failure : The Paradox of Design - Henry Petroski

Success through Failure

The Paradox of Design

Paperback Published: 29th May 2018
ISBN: 9780691180991
Number Of Pages: 256

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Design pervades our lives. Everything from drafting a PowerPoint presentation to planning a state-of-the-art bridge embodies this universal human activity. But what makes a great design? In this compelling and wide-ranging look at the essence of invention, distinguished engineer and author Henry Petroski argues that, time and again, we have built success on the back of failure--not through easy imitation of success. Success through Failure shows us that making something better - by carefully anticipating and thus averting failure - is what invention and design are all about. Petroski explores the nature of invention and the character of the inventor through an unprecedented range of both everyday and extraordinary examples - illustrated lectures, child-resistant packaging for drugs, national constitutions, medical devices, the world's tallest skyscrapers, long-span bridges, and more. Stressing throughout that there is no surer road to eventual failure than modeling designs solely on past successes, he sheds new light on spectacular failures, from the destruction of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940 and the space shuttle disasters of recent decades, to the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001.  Petroski also looks at the prehistoric and ancient roots of many modern designs. The historical record, especially as embodied in failures, reveals patterns of human social behavior that have implications for large structures like bridges and vast organizations like NASA. Success through Failure--which will fascinate anyone intrigued by design, including engineers, architects, and designers themselves--concludes by speculating on when we can expect the next major bridge failure to occur, and the kind of bridge most likely to be involved.   

Industry Reviews

"This is a book about human nature in design settings and its role in the development of products and our built environment. . . . Ingenuity is explored as a pendulum that swings between success and failure, driven by design philosophy and practices in a given place and time." * Library Journal *
"Petroski tells iconic tales to demonstrate that mistakes are not obnoxious by-products of innovation but fundamental clues to the ideal." * Fast Company *
"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."---Cornelia Dean, The New York Times
"Success through Failureis insightful and accessible."---J. M. Ottino, Nature
"[An] engaging and readable book. . . . Petroski uses countless interesting case histories to show how failure motivates technological advancement. . . . I recommend you keep a copy of Petroski's book on hand and flip through it next time you're feeling seduced by success."---Steven Cass, IEEE Spectrum
"An excellent read." * Architectural Science Review *
"The moral Petroski draws--success breeds hubris and catastrophe, failure nurtures humility and insight-is worth pondering." * Publishers Weekly *
"From ancient Roman engineers dismayed at the failure of stone-arch bridges to twenty-first-century American architects stunned by the collapse of the Twin Towers, designers have frequently learned valuable principles through hard tutelage. Lucid and concise, this study invites nonspecialists to share in the challenge of trial-and-error engineering."---Bryce Christensen, , Booklist
"Petroski's main message deserves notice. He points out that failure is an inherent part of success when it comes to design and innovation, and failure can come in many forms."---Martin Ince, Times Higher Education Supplement

ISBN: 9780691180991
ISBN-10: 0691180997
Series: Princeton Science Library
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 29th May 2018
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 14.0  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.27
Edition Number: 1

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