Engineering Case Studies Online focuses on engineering failures and employs the case study method for learning from the past. Materials included in cases can range from documentaries, accident reports, company reports, photographs and interviews. There are 58 cases that include significant supporting materials. Other cases are currently included with minimal information. The case studies product was released in February 2014, and is expected to be completed in late 2014.
Alexander Street Press is a new name to many engineering librarians and engineering faculty. The focus of their previous products are in humanities, social science, and health care fields. This new product, released in early February, 2014, focuses on analysis and study of engineering failures. While called case studies, they are not presented as formal cases, leaving how the materials are used and crafted into a case to be explored up to the individual faculty member teaching.
Many of the case studies included will be recognizable to anyone who has studied or taught engineering and used noteable failures as a teaching tool. No longer does the librarian or faculty member have to struggle to find footage of “Galloping Gertie” (the Tacoma Narrows Bridge), or pictures of the aftermath of the Hyatt Regency balcony collapse. More current cases are also included, such as the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant disaster and the Deepwater Horizon oil well explosion.
While many of the cases are classic studies in engineering, suggestions for additional cases to be included have been gathered from members of the advisory committee, which consists of both engineering subject librarians and engineering faculty.
The cases included are global in scope, as are the resources gathered to present the event. While the content will expand during 2014, after that the product is envisioned as a complete collection. Some cases will continue to have minimal content, as their inclusion is due to information present in source material for other cases that are considered primary. The publisher reports the following anticipated breakdown of types of content: 33% video documentaries; 25% "front/back matter"; 20% accident reports; 10% general reference; 12% assorted graphic material including photographs, technical drawings, maps, and graphs.
Some of the material included in Engineering Case Studies Online may overlap with library holdings, in particular a few books that include written accounts of several engineering failure cases. There is a notable advantage to having the content included in this online tool, including the ability for multiple people to access the material at one time, and that through the event page for a particular case it is paired with available video, interview transcripts, reports, timelines, and news coverage.
Much of the video content is licensed from BBC, A&E, World Wide Entertainment, Future Media (Australia) and ABC. There is some raw news camera footage availble, and many produced documentaries that are tagged for the sections faculty are likely to be interested in showing.