Engineer’s Greatest Fear
It is one thing for a structure to fail. As an engineer it could mean a loss of livelihood. But an even greater fear is to see that a structure you worked on has injured or killed someone. After concern for people involved in the recent collapse on Autoroute 19 and after interest in the cause, the engineers involved is what went through my mind.
The cause could have nothing to do with your work on the project, but you still feel a level of responsibility for preventing it. Although the Twin towers were brought down by commercial airplanes, Leslie Robertson, an engineer on the project, felt there was something more he could have done. The design of the structure had taken into account an airliner crashing into it using the best tools they had at the time. But he still felt he could have done more so the building could stand up longer to let more people get out.
I have worked with engineers who stayed up nights concerned about the structural safety of their projects. Exceptional engineers who have built complex structures all over the world. Their designs were built to code, double and triple checked, and their experience told them that the size and configuration were correct. You can be 110% confident in your work, but it’s a fear that you’re reminded of when something like this happens.