Failures Wiki
Roof Collapse of Church as a Result of a Multi-Building Fire in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania

Building, Architectural and Civil Engineering Failures and Forensic Practices

"Bad times have a scientific value.
These are occasions a good learner would not miss."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Failures Wiki is an interactive repository for the dissemination of failures information and educational materials related to building structures, architectural systems and civil engineering infrastructure. The site was created through the efforts of Professor M. Kevin Parfitt, P.E. (moderator for the site) and launched with the help of students in AE 537, Building Performance Failures and Forensic Techniques in the Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Technical Council on Forensic Engineering(TCFE) Committee on Dissemination of Failure Information (CDFI) has expressed interest in working with Failures Wiki and the various case study authors as a means of encouraging the educational dissemination of failures information to practitioners, educators and students.

Launched at Penn State in October of 2009, the site was initially populated with the posting of drafts of the first 19 wiki installments / case studies. Case studies were initially be peer reviewed by the course instructor and the students involved. Peer review activities are on going including reviews by members of TCFE and selected industry practitioners. In November of 2009, drafts of the initial case studies were posted. Following the launch of the pilot program, Failures Wiki was discussed in committee and presented at a panel session on forensic education as a part of the ASCE TCFE 5th Congress on Forensic Engineering held in Washington DC. Failures Wiki is open to industry, educators and the general engineering public for case study contributions, peer review and discussion / commentary.

Access to Failures Wiki - How to Join
Currently, anyone can provide commentary and place discussion posts on the various case study wiki pages by linking to the case study and selecting the Discussion Tab. Open discussion will remain open in this manner as long as constructive and professional dialogue is maintained. To create or edit a case study you are required to join the wiki, however to insure quality and appropriate failure cases to the topic of this site, you need to request membership by sending an email requrest to Professor Parfitt ( indicating your name, professional affiliation and contact email address. Membership is open to anyone who would like to participate however the application request process is controlled to prevent spam and inappropriate or inaccurate contributions. Individuals interested in contributing to professional discourse by contributing case studies, serving as peer reviewers and providing constructive discussion and commentary are encouraged to participate.


Opinions expressed in the pages of this wiki are those of the authors (both named and unnamed) and not necessarily those of the associated organizations, site moderators or administrators. It is also important to note that it is common to have honest differences of opinions about the causes and responsibilities of failures. Authors and contributors are encouraged to include and discuss any known competing or alternative theories of failure for the case studies and system failures provided as a part of this wiki.