Henry Petroski (February 6, 1942) is an American engineer specializing in failure analysis. A professor both of civil engineering and history at Duke University, he is also a prolific author. Petroski has written over a dozen books – beginning with To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design (1985) and including a number of titles detailing the industrial design history of common, everyday objects, such as pencils, paper clips, and silverware. He is a frequent lecturer and a columnist for the magazines American Scientist and Prism. His most recently published book is To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure.
Petroski was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in Park Slope and Cambria Heights, Queens. In 1963, he received his bachelor's degree from Manhattan College. He graduated with his PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1968.
Before beginning his work at Duke in 1980, Petroski worked at the University of Texas at Austin from 1968–74 and for the Argonne National Laboratory from 1975-80. Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University.
In 2004, Petroski was appointed to the United States Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board and was reappointed in 2008...
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