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Root Cause Analysis for Young Engineers

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Science  26 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6131, pp. 444-445
DOI: 10.1126/science.1229907

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Engineers learn from mistakes. The mantra “fail often, fail fast” is sometimes heard in the research and development environment and describes a spirit of exciting exploration, investigation, and innovation. But the real world is a crucible for errors and flaws where the failure of functional designs can affect real people. There is always a human face to engineering design decisions, and the result of an unanticipated coincidence of events or conditions is the stuff of nightmares for engineers. Whether the result of failure is annoyance and embarrassment or catastrophe and tragedy, engineers use a systematic approach to discovering what went wrong.