Engineering is not often billed as an adrenaline infused profession.
Indeed, introducing yourself as an engineer at a party likely won’t earn you the admiring ooh’s and ahh’s that, say, a fireman, or U.S. Navy Seal might get. But, for anyone who has ever inadvertently burnt off their fingertip with a soldering iron (yep, four-printed wonder right here), you know that engineering can and often is risky business. After all, done right, it’s a hands on profession.
That’s why a recent thread over on Quora caught my eye this morning.
“What are the deadliest construction / engineering projects in history?” was the title, with the subheading “For each, did technology exist at the time that could have made the work safer?”
The author listed the building of the Great Wall of China, the Panama Canal and the pyramids as probably the most risky engineering projects in history, resulting in thousands of deaths. Still, those somehow feel a little far back and grandiose. Also, in the case of the Panama Canal, most of the deaths occurred after workers contracted yellow fever or malaria, rather than engineering work accidents.
The building of the Hoover dam, the great railroads, and mining were also all cited as examples of high-risk engineering, but the answers all seemed to fall a bit short. After all, the perils of structural engineering seem fairly obvious. You build something massive out of bricks and/or steel, and there’s a high likelihood bits may fall off and bop people on the head.
But what of the disasters in electrical engineering? What are the big notable ones?
At the risk of sounding like one of those cheesy TV lawyers, have you yourself ever inadvertently electrocuted yourself, a family member or your dog? Slipped with your soldering iron and have scars to tell the tale?
Anything and everything from exploding laptops, to spontaneous combustion of batteries, or bringing down the power of an entire area, if you have a story, we want to hear it.
No, I’m not going to help you sue for damages, but I do want to hear your engineering horror stories, with picture proof if possible. After all, what good is a scar if you can’t show it off?
Send your tales of engineering horror to me at Sylvie.Barak@ubm.com