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The Triumphs and Failures of the Brooklyn Bridge (CEEN 398)

Professor Susan M. Reynolds


In Spring 2020, Prof. Susan Reynolds piloted a new course titled “The Triumph and Failures of the Brooklyn Bridge.” In this course, students were immersed in the fascinating story of the Brooklyn Bridge — its engineering, but also the people that designed and built it, within the fascinating political, social, and economic landscape of 1880s New York. This truly unique course blends engineering concepts with notions of ethics, safety, culture, justice, risk, business, economics, politics, and so much more. Chief engineer Washington Roebling, and his wife Emily — thought of as a self-taught engineer by some — provide students with remarkable role models for future careers as engineers and as leaders. Future iterations of the course, with donor funding, could include a trip to NYC to see the bridge construction in person, as well as other sites in the vicinity that are relevant to the bridge’s history and to its engineers and builders.

Susan's Homepage


Interested in Taking This Class?


At this time, there are no planned offerings of the course.

Please contact me at reynolds (at) mines (dot) edu for current information.




Prereqs: There are no prereqs to the course, and it is open to all majors. Typically, Civil majors are most passionate about the subject material, but many different majors (Environmental Eng., Electrical Eng., Chemical Eng., Mechanical Eng., etc.) have enjoyed the course. The design of the foundations of the Brooklyn Bridge is especially interesting, so students interested in geotechnical or geological engineering may find the course to be especially interesting.

Grad students: This is a 300-level course and cannot be used as credit towards a graduate degree.

Engineering credit:At the moment, the course is an engineering-humanities hybrid, and has not been approved as a technical elective within engineering programs.

HASS credit: At the moment, the course is an engineering-humanities hybrid, and has not been approved for HASS credit.