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Weirs and dams are large hydraulic engineering structures that are designed, constructed and operated according to high engineering standards. Due to the variability of e.g. geological and geotechnical conditions, the individuality of each structure, the diverse and potentially extreme impacts such as floods or earthquakes and also as a result of human error, absolute safety of such facilities can never be guaranteed. With this in mind, damaging and failure of dams are astonishingly frequent events worldwide, which have far-reaching socio-economic and ecological consequences and often result in the loss of human lives. An essential part of the operation of large hydraulic engineering facilities is therefore to identify, analyse and assess the risks associated with them and to mitigate them as far as feasible and reasonable.
Major accidents and disasters: How could they happen?
How "safe" are dams, for example, and where do potential hazards lurk?
How can a hydraulic engineering system actually fail?
How likely is such a failure?
What are the consequences and how can one assess them?
How "safe" is (for the individual and for a society) actually "safe enough"?
What can and what should be done to reduce risks?
Responsible engineering also includes a view beyond what is characterized by extensive experience as well as standards and regulations. Students are sensitized to deal with what is unlikely but nevertheless possible at an early stage and in a well-founded manner within the framework of risk management. This requires risk-based thinking, viable strategies and special methods, which are taught in basic principles and applied in an exemplary manner. With a view beyond the engineering subject, the view is also broadened by using playful methods into a technical field characterized by high versatility and interdisciplinarity. This lays the foundations for future activities, e.g. in the fields of operation and monitoring, safety certification and the approval of hydraulic engineering and generally large-scale technical facilities.