Professional Course

Engineering Ethics: The Big Dig Tunnel Ceiling Collapse

PDHengineer, Online
1 hour
30 USD
Next course start
Start anytime! See details
Self-paced Online
1 hour
30 USD
Next course start
Start anytime! See details
Self-paced Online
This provider usually responds within 48 hours 👍

Course description

engineer in tunnel

In Engineering Ethics: The Big Dig Tunnel Ceiling Collapse, you'll learn ...

  • What caused the Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse
  • Multiple errors, oversights and missed opportunities that preceded the collapse
  • Roles and responsibilities of the engineers involved in the accident as they relate to public safety, structural design and project management
  • Lessons learned from this tragedy that you can apply to your own professional practice


Credit: 1 PDH

Length: 24 pages

Preview a portion of the interactive version of the course, designed to provide a multi-media learning experience that you complete at your computer.

You may view either or both versions when you purchase this course

The Big Dig ceiling collapse occurred on July 10, 2006, when a concrete ceiling panel and debris weighing 26 short tons (24,000 kg) and measuring 20 by 40 feet (6.1 by 12.2 m) fell in Boston's D Street portal, just west of the Ted Williams Tunnel. The panel fell on a car traveling on the two-lane ramp connecting northbound I-93 to eastbound I-90, killing a passenger and injuring the driver. Investigation and repair of the collapse caused a section of the Big Dig project to be closed for almost a full year, causing chronic traffic backups in the Boston area.

In this course, you’ll learn the root cause of the ceiling collapse, as well as the numerous mistakes, oversights and missed opportunities that contributed to the disaster.

The tragedy of the Big Dig Tunnel Collapse serves as a reminder of our obligation to the public as stated in Canon 1 of the ASCE Code of Ethics:

Engineers shall recognize that the lives, safety, health and welfare of the general public are dependent upon engineering judgments, decisions and practices incorporated into structures, machines, products, processes and devices.

One of the best ways that we can honor the memory of victims of engineering disasters is by learning from them so that future tragedies can be avoided. You’ll take away from this course valuable lessons learned from the Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse that you can apply to your own professional practice.

Special Note: Course ET-1036 and webinar ET-2026W are alternate presentations of the same course material. Therefore, only one version, either the course or webinar, can be taken during a renewal cycle. If you have any questions regarding course eligibility, please contact our Customer Service Team.

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Upcoming start dates

1 start date available

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  • Self-paced Online
  • Online

Who should attend?

Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 10 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Training content

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • The purpose and scope of the Big Dig project
  • Project execution issues and cost overruns associated with the Big Dig
  • Ceiling design and fabrication details
  • Why the ceiling failed even though the anchor loads were well within the load capacities of the manufacturer’s specifications
  • Why it is critical to specify creep resistance for epoxy used in structural systems
  • Warning signs that were evident prior to the accident and why they were not heeded
  • Why post-construction inspections did not detect the problems prior to failure
  • The importance of redundancy in structural engineering designs
  • The importance of testing and verifying manufacturers’ specifications and understanding the properties of the materials you use


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