Parfitt Participates in Failures Workshop for Educators

M. Kevin Parfitt, P.E., F. AEI participated as an instructor in the ASCE – TCFE workshop titled “Using Failure Case Studies to Teach Engineering and Ethics” as a part of the on-going series of Educators Workshops offered to faculty and interested practitioners.  This most recent workshop was offered on November 13, 2013 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.  The seminar, directed by Dr. Norbert Delatte, Chair and Professor, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering – Cleveland State University, also included presentations and panel discussion by Michael Drerup, P.E. of CTL Group and Dr. Paul Bosela, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Cleveland State University. Sponsorship for this workshop was provided by the ASCE Technical Council on Forensic Engineering, the National Science Foundation, and the National Building Museum.

The workshop addressed the how and why of integrating failure case studies into introductory engineering, engineering mechanics, civil engineering, and other types of engineering courses. The focus was on using failures and forensic  case studies to improve student engagement and learning.  Numerous example cases were highlighted and discussed for demonstration purposes.   Assessment methods and results were presented, along with discussion of ways that failure case studies may be used to support ABET outcomes, particularly for the professional component of the curriculum. Participants received a CD of case study PowerPoint presentations and other background and instructional information for ease of incorporation of the material in courses at their own institutions.  The cases covered contemporary and historic failures of bridges, dams, and buildings, as well as other engineered systems.

As a part of Professor Parfitt’s presentation, the use of web-based tools such as the Failures Wiki and Building Failures Forum were discussed including on-line discussion forums to provide more direct student – practitioner interaction.  Parfitt also presented a session titled “The Campus is our Lab” to demonstrate how buildings and facilities locally at a university can be used to increase direct student involvement and active learning realted to forensic enigneering and building technology issues. 

Educators interested in attending in future workshops can contact Dr.  Norbert Delatte at for information and scheduling.

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