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Ethical Issues from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse

Ethical Issues from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse
Course Highlights

In this online engineering PDH course you will learn about how the engineering profession gained important new insights into the importance of aerodynamics in bridge design as a result of the ethical dilemma faced by the designers of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge.


This course will examine the ethical issues that arose from the 1940 collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State. This was one of the most dramatic bridge collapses in history, fortunately with no loss of life and little property damage other than the bridge itself. The collapse took place less than a year after completion of construction of the bridge.


Out of this incident a serious ethical issue was illuminated for the engineering profession. Specifically, at what point are the profession's theoretical and experiential knowledge insufficient to justify moving forward with a specific project or design scheme?  Furthermore, in the presence of weak experiential knowledge, is there a practicable way to supplement the experiential knowledge so as to move the project forward?


This 2 PDH online course is applicable to engineers, architects and other design and construction professionals interested in learning about the ethical issues raised by the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, as well as the lessons learned from this major engineering incident.

Learning Objectives

This PE continuing education course is intended to provide you with the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Learning about the history of the project and the economic, commercial and national security issues that shaped its development
  • Learning about the two different design approaches suggested by different engineering teams
  • Learning about the ominous oscillations observed both during and after construction
  • Learning about the previously unseen mode of oscillation observed on the day of its collapse
  • Learning from file photos, and a link to an on-site video, what observers at the scene saw at the time
  • Learning about the technical investigation that followed the collapse
  • Learning about the vortex-shedding/resonance theory
  • Learning about the aerodynamic flutter theory
  • Learning about the ethical lessons learned from collapse of he Tacoma Narrows bridge
  • Learning about a tool employed by bridge engineers today to address the issues illuminated by the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse
Course Document

In this professional engineering CEU course, you need to review the course document tilted, "Ethical Issues from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse".

To view, print and study the course document, please click on the following link(s):
Ethical Issues from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse (2.0 MB)
Course Quiz
Once you complete your course review, you need to take a multiple-choice quiz consisting of fifteen (15) questions to earn 2 PDH credits. The quiz will be based on the entire document.


The minimum passing score is 70%. There is no time limit on the quiz, and you can take it multiple times until you pass at no additional cost.
Certificate of Completion

Upon successful completion of the quiz, print your Certificate of Completion instantly. (Note: if you are paying by check or money order, you will be able to print it after we receive your payment.) For your convenience, we will also email it to you. Please note that you can log in to your account at any time to access and print your Certificate of Completion.

To buy the course and take the quiz, please click on: