CBEMS 175 Design Failure Investigation (2012-2013)

CBEMS 175 Design Failure Investigation

(Required for MSE. Selected Elective for ChE and MSE.)
Catalog Data:

CBEMS 175 Design Failure Investigation (Credit Units: 4) Survey of mechanisms by which devices fail, including overload, fatigue, corrosion, and wear. Use of fractography and other evidence to interpret failure modes and specify design/manufacturing changes. Students redesign failed parts or structures based on actual parts and/or case histories. Prerequisite: ENGR54. Prerequisite Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Engineering majors have first consideration for enrollment. (Design units: 2)

Required Textbook:
Recommended Textbook:
  • V. J. Colangelo and F. A. Heiser, Analysis of Metallurgical Failures
  • G. Petzow, ed., Case Histories in Failure Analysis
  • W. T. Becker and R. J. Shipley, Failure Analysis and Prevention, ASM Handbook, Vol. 11, eds.
  • L. E. Murr, Material and Component Failure, Failure Analysis, and Litigation.
James C. Earthman
Relationship to Student Outcomes
This course relates to Student Outcomes: EAC a, EAC c, EAC d, EAC e, EAC f, EAC g, EAC h, EAC i, EAC j, EAC k.
Course Learning Outcomes. Students will:

1. Function on multi-disciplinary teams (EAC d)

2. Identify, formulate and determine the root cause of a material failure in an engineering system using experimental, statistical and computational techniques, and modern engineering tools essential for engineering practice. (EAC a, EAC c, EAC e, EAC k)

3. Assess whether breaches of ethics and/or professional codes occurred including those associated with materials manufacture and selection. Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. (EAC f, EAC g, EAC i)

4. Understand the impact of failure and its investigation on the perception of engineering systems in a global, economic, environmental and societal context (EAC h)

5. Understand contemporary issues related to failure analysis. (EAC j)

Prerequisites by Topic
  • Internal structure of materials
  • Imperfections in materials
Lecture Topics:
  • Introduction: Course mechanics, Historical perspective on structural failure, Objectives of failure investigation
  • Fractography, Optical microscopy, Surface replication, Scanning electron microscopy, Transmission electron microscopy
  • Analysis of Fracture Under Static Loads: Cleavage, Shear separation, Ductile rupture, Fracture mechanics concepts
  • Indications of Fatigue Failure: Crack nucleation and Stage I crack growth, Stage II crack growth, Crack growth under torsion, Crack surface artifacts
  • Analysis of Environmentally Induced Failures: Pitting, Stress corrosion cracking, Hydrogen degradation
  • Determining the Cause of High Temperature Failures: Grain boundary cavitation, High temperature crack growth, High temperature fatigue, Environmental effects
  • Analyzing Surface Damage: Mechanical wear, Fretting, Impingement attack
  • Investigating Failure Due to Processing Procedures: Metalworking defects, Casting defects, Problems resulting from heat treating, Welding considerations
  • Liability and Litigation: Legal Terminology, Responsibilities and Obligations, Court Procedures
Class Schedule:

Meets for 3 hours of lecture and 1 hour of discussion each week for 10 weeks.

Computer Usage:

Homework assignments and failure image data base are distributed via the course website. The image data base provides several macro and microscopic images of failed materials so that the students may learn to recognize and utilize characteristic features to determine the nature and origin of the failure.

Laboratory Projects:


Professional Component

This course is designed to contribute towards the Materials Science Engineering major through the engineering topics and design experience that are related to corrosion, fracture and fatigue as well as other common failure processes. Considerations are given liability, litigation, and ethical responsibility. The final project for the course is based on a mock trial civil litigation in which the students work in groups to provide evidence and expert testimony for one of the parties in the trial.

Design Content Description

Students are shown how investigation findings can be used to make design changes and prevent repetition of failures in the future.

Lectures: 60%
Laboratory Portion: 40%
Grading Criteria:
  • Homework: 20%
  • 4 Tests: 40%
  • Final Project: 40%
  • Total: 100%
Estimated ABET Category Content:

Mathematics and Basic Science: 0.0 credit units

Computing: 0.0 credit units

Engineering Topics: 4.0 credit units

Engineering Science: 2.0 credit units

Engineering Design: 2.0 credit units

June 28, 2013
Senate Approved:
May 31, 2013
Approved Effective:
2013 Winter Qtr