Brady Heywood Podcast

Brady Heywood Podcast 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

Episode 26 – Apollo 13: Addendum
Want to take a deep dive behind the scenes of our Apollo 13 podcast series? Want to know the cause of the failure? Then this podcast is for you. We’ll talk about each episode, cover the technical material we left out, discuss the cause, and even chat about Ron Howard’s excellent movie, Apollo 13. We’ll even throw in a clue about our next long-form series… Twitter at @BradyHeywoodPod Facebook Instagram Email podcasts@bradyhe...

Episode 25 - Apollo 13 V: Steely-Eyed Missile Men
Apollo 13 is about to undertake one of the most improvised and dangerous re-entries ever attempted by NASA. Will John Aaron and the Tiger Team figure out how to power back up the Command Module in time? Has the heat shield been damaged? Are their parachute's frozen?    This is the final episode of Apollo 13. But be sure to subscribe to the podcast because we will be releasing an Addendum episode at some point in 2019. In this episode we'll take a behind the scenes look at Apollo 13. We'll cover all the mate...

Episode 24 - Apollo 13 IV: Star Sailors
The crew of Apollo 13 begin their long fall to earth. In this entire episode we stay with the crew as they go around the moon, fight to keep their LEM functioning and their trajectory correct - all while their spacecraft begins to freeze around them. The final episode will be released next Thursday. The series is accompanied by bonus material, in the form of photographs and graphics, which will be posted on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Twitter at @BradyHeywoodPod Facebook

Episode 23 - Apollo 13 III: The Tiger Team
"I don’t give a damn about the odds and I don’t give a damn that we’ve never done anything like this before. You’ve got to believe, your people have got to believe, that this crew is coming home." Gene Kranz to the Tiger Team, Room 210, April 1970. The Tiger Team and Mission Control work through the long range problems of getting Apollo 13 home. Meanwhile, the astronauts attempt to confirm their position and trajectory as the moon continues to grow larger in their windows.  A new episode will be released ev...

Episode 22 - Apollo 13 II: The Lifeboat
Following the explosion, the three astronauts and Mission Control fight to save the dying spacecraft. And Gene Kranz assembles a team to tackle an impossible rescue.  A new episode will be released every Thursday. The series is accompanied by bonus material, in the form of photographs and graphics, which will be posted on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Twitter at @BradyHeywoodPod Facebook Instagram Email podcasts@bradyhey...

Episode 21 - Apollo 13 I: Head for the Hills
Apollo 13 is 200,000 miles from earth when it’s crippled by an explosion. On board are astronauts Jack Swigert, Fred Haise, and Commander Jim Lovell. In this five-part series we follow the story of the three astronauts, as well as the scores of people in Mission Control, who scramble to bring Apollo 13 home. We take a deep dive into both the human and technical challenges they face.  A new episode will be released every Thursday for the next five weeks. The series will also be accompanied by bonus material,...

Episode 20 - Apollo 13 Teaser
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. Follow on Twitter at @BradyHeywoodPod Follow on Facebook Follow on Instagram Email

Episode 19 - Stranger than Fiction
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 Follow on Twitter at @BradyHeywoodPod Email A photograph of the collapse is available at

Episode 18 - Quebec Bridge Collapse
Can ego knock a bridge down? How one man's decisions caused the collapse of the Quebec Bridge. Follow the podcast on twitter @BradyHeywoodPod The Royal Commission Report into the collapse can be found at

Episode 17 - Earthquakes, Financial Crashes, and Dinosaurs
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. Follow the podcast on twitter @BradyHeywoodPod Mark Buchanan's Ubiquity can be found at

Episode 16 - The Comet Aircraft Crashes
The aircraft crashes that changed the world of aviation. And the reason aircraft windows aren't square. Follow the podcast on twitter @BradyHeywoodPod 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:

Episode 15 - Minneapolis Highway Bridge Collapse
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? Follow the podcast on twitter @BradyHeywoodPod The National Transportation Safety Board's report can be found at

Episode 14 - Hanging Garden of Babylon
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.  Follow the podcast on twitter @BradyHeywoodPod A sketch of the Garden, as well as the bas relief depicting the garden at Ninevah, can be found ...

Episode 13 - Brooklyn Bridge Part 2
With doctors saying her husband is dying, Emily Warren Roebling sets out on a path to see the great bridge through to completion. Read more at

Episode 12 - Brooklyn Bridge Part 1
The greatest engineering challenge of the age. A male dominated profession. One woman. Emily Warren Roebling. Read more at

Episode 11 - Tacoma Bridge Collapse
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

Episode 10 - Virgin Galactic Crash
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...

Episode 9 - Why Expertise Can Hold Us Back
What does a stadium collapse, baseball, fire fighting, and taking a shower have in common? In this episode we explore the concept of expertise and ask does it have a dark side? Indeed, can failures sometimes occur precisely because we possess expertise? But before all that we'll join a group of firefighters about to step into an obscure valley in Montana in 1949... Sean delivered this presentation to approximately 550 delegates attending the Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference in August ...

Episode 8 - The West Gate Bridge Collapse
What is not well known about the West Gate Bridge collapse in Melbourne, Australia in 1970 was that it was only one of a string of similar bridge failures that happened around the world. The failures highlighted that the engineering profession’s understanding of these bridge types was clearly lacking. In Melbourne the profession paid the ultimate price: 35 fatalities....

Episode 7 - Heart Attacks: Is Less Information More?
What can heart attack diagnosis tell us about engineering failures? Perhaps not much directly, but it does provide fascinating insight into whether or not more information really leads to better decision making. This episode examines the story of the system developed at Cook County Hospital in Chicago to diagnose if someone was at risk of having a heart attack. It shows that in some cases less (information) really is more. For a detailed description of Cook County Hospital and their heart attack diagn...

Episode 6 - Corporate Memory Loss: The Malahide Collapse
While the technical cause of failure of the Malahide Viaduct in Ireland was straight-forward, the human factor that collapsed the bridge was a relatively new phenomenon: corporate memory loss.   Detailed article on the collapse can be found at The Rail Accident Investigation Unit report on the collapse can be found at

Episode 5 - Organ Donation Rates and Engineering Failures
Organ donation rates provide surprising insight into how we as humans make rational decisions. This podcast looks at this insight and examines how it can play a role in engineering failure, specifically examining the 2007 collapse of the I-35W Highway Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Johnson and Goldstein paper can be found at Detailed article on the I-35W Highway Bridge collapse can be found at https://docs.wixstatic...

minnesota donation bridge engineering highway minneapolis failure organ forensic i35w

Episode 4 - The Citicorp Tower Crisis
In 1978 an engineering design error was discovered in the Citicorp Tower in Manhattan. It was so serious that it threatened the tower’s integrity. This is the story of how it was found and the race against time to fix it. Detailed article can be found at

Episode 3 - The Role of Forensic Engineers in Legal Disputes
What is the difference between a forensic structural engineer, as opposed to an ‘ordinary’ structural engineer? And what are the roles of these two very different types of engineers in legal disputes? Detailed article can be found at

Episode 2 - The Hyatt Regency Collapse
The structural collapse of walkways at the Hyatt Regency in 1981 was one of the most devastating collapses in US history. 114 died, over 200 were injured – needing the emergency rooms of 17 hospitals to treat them. We look at the story from the perspective of those involved. Detailed article can be found at

Episode 1 - Welcome to the Brady Heywood Podcast
Welcome to the Brady Heywood podcast – the podcast where we look at engineering failures and disasters. My name is Sean Brady, and I’m a forensic structural engineer, which means I investigate the causes of engineering failures. And while I usually focus on figuring out the technical cause of a failure, I’m also interested in the role of human factors in these disasters. Because for every technical cause of failure – not just in engineering, but in any profession – there are a range of human factors that al...