Catastrophic Gingerbread House Failure

One of my favorite engineering classes was called “Catastrophic Failures.”  We studied many of the engineering disasters over the years.  That may sound a little morbid, but it’s actually pretty effective at stressing that making a mistake in engineering can have fatal consequences.

And so along those lines, here we present the case of the Catastrophic Gingerbread House Failure.

Post Failure Findings

The design called for icing to be mixed for 8 minutes to achieve the required consistency for structural adhesion.  Construction foreman didn’t want to wait 8 minutes, so she only mixed “until it looked right.”  Resulting mixture was outside of design specs.

The design called for the icing to be paced in a “thin line” along the edges of the gingerbread house walls, making sure not to over-apply.  The construction foreman decided that the construction crew could apply the adhesive icing however they wanted.  Resulting application was outside  of design specs.

The design called for the icing to sit for “at least 30-40 minutes” before attempting to place the house roof on the walls.  This time would allow the icing adhesive to set up to the required consistency needed for structural adhesion.  The construction foreman decided that she and the construction crew had to finish the house immediately and therefore did not wait the specified time for the adhesive to set up.  Resulting construction was outside of design specs.

Failure Results:

Photo of subject building immediately after "completion"

Photo of subject building approximately 2.4 seconds later


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3 Comments on “Catastrophic Gingerbread House Failure”

  1. IamNana Says:

    It looks to me like the first gingerbread house in history with a retractable roof. Very advanced engineering.

  2. quotation marks Says:

    …..”retractable roof”…..took the words right out of my mouth. And “engineer” never looks at instructions?? Foreman and crew….hmmmmm. Now, patch, patch patch.

  3. carpoolqueen Says:

    I have a suggestion –

    Foam gingerbread houses with self-adhesive decorations.

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