Brady Heywood Podcast

Join forensic engineer Sean Brady as he discusses engineering failures and disasters. Sean examines both the technical and human causes of failure, explores failures in a range of professions, and talks about why our decision making is not nearly as rational as we’d like to think. Follow our Twitter updates at @BradyHeywoodPod
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Now displaying: 2017
Dec 4, 2017

Listen to our Apollo 13 teaser, with actual audio from its launch on 11 April 1970.

In the New Year we will tackle the story of Apollo 13. In this episode we chat about the podcast journey so far and we discuss the new episodes currently in the planning stages.

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Nov 8, 2017

The collapse of the I40 bridge in 2002 was a tragedy, but its aftermath was a story you simply couldn't make up.

It begins with a barge, a bridge, and an impostor, and it ends with a prison sentence, Vladimir Putin, and cheque fraud in Alaska

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A photograph of the collapse is available at

Sep 9, 2017

Can ego knock a bridge down? How one man's decisions caused the collapse of the Quebec Bridge.

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The Royal Commission Report into the collapse can be found at

Jul 31, 2017

Why do the really big catastrophes happen? The earthquakes, the financial crashes, and even the outbreak of the First World War. In this episode we dive into the weird world of complexity theory.

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Mark Buchanan's Ubiquity can be found at

Jun 8, 2017

The aircraft crashes that changed the world of aviation. And the reason aircraft windows aren't square.

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A number of books cover the crash of the aircraft, but Henry Petroski's To Engineer is Human is one of the best:

There are a number of documentaries on YouTube, including:


May 1, 2017

On 1 August 2007 at 6:05 pm, during rush hour traffic, the I35-W Highway Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota collapsed into the Mississippi River.

We’ll look at how a bridge could suddenly collapse after 40 years of service. And we’ll ask was there an issue with design, or was there abnormal bridge loading at the time of the failure? Or was there both?

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The National Transportation Safety Board's report can be found at

A photograph of the loading on the bridge can be found in the NTSB failure report on page 26, see figure 16. 


Apr 3, 2017

Did the Hanging Garden of Babylon actually exist or was it myth?

And why bother talking about it in this podcast?

Because apart from whether or not the Garden existed, or more importantly where it was located, the story of its history is fascinating.

But even more fascinating is the extraordinary engineering achievement that may have underpinned its very existence. 

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A sketch of the Garden, as well as the bas relief depicting the garden at Ninevah, can be found here:

A detailed account of the discovery of the ruins at Jerwan can be found here:

A link to Dr Dalley's book can be found here:

Details of Jason Ur's work on declassified satellite imagery can be found here:

My article on the subject can be found in The Structural Engineer magazine here: 

Feb 27, 2017

With doctors saying her husband is dying, Emily Warren Roebling sets out on a path to see the great bridge through to completion.


Feb 13, 2017

The greatest engineering challenge of the age. A male dominated profession. One woman.

Emily Warren Roebling.


Jan 30, 2017

The collapse of the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge is one of the world's most recognised structural failures.

Were there any warnings from history that this failure could have occurred, and more importantly, if failures like this had ever happened at the past - why did we as a profession forget the lessons learned?

Footage of the bridge collapse can be viewed on YouTube 

Jan 17, 2017

The tragic crash of the Virgin Galactic spacecraft carries lessons for all of us. Do failures happen because humans make mistakes? Or do they happen because we design systems that ultimately fail us as humans?

Detailed article on the disaster can be found at

The National Transportation Safety Board's report can be found at

The National Transportation Safety Board video of the seconds leading up to the disaster can be found at