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1.“Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse,” Wikipedia, May 24, 2013,
2.H. Petroski, To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design (Vintage Publishing, 1992).
3.H. Petroski, Success Through Failure (Princeton University Press, 2006).
4.S. Squyres, Roving Mars (Hyperion Publishing, 2006).
5.Verbal permission to use the images contained in the final report was given by Scott Nacheman of Thornton Tomasetti Inc., via a phone call on May 24, 2013.
7.D. J. Oakley, “Wind loads and Resisting Structures,” Lecture PowerPoint, May 24, 2013,
8.Thornton Tomasetti, Inc., “Executive Summary, Indiana State Fair Commission August 13, 2011 Collapse Incident Investigative Report” (Thornton Tomasetti, Inc., 2012), p. 9.
9.M. Wisniewski, “Indiana Fines Company, Union in Deadly Stage Collapse,” Reuters, Feb. 8, 2012.
10.Thornton Tomasetti, Inc., “Final Report, Indiana State Fair Commission August 13, 2011 Collapse Incident Investigative Report” (Thornton Tomasetti, Inc.).
11.B. Dukes, “Settlement Between Indiana State Fair, Stage Collapse Victims and Stage Owner Rejected,” Taste of Country, August 18, 2012,
12.S. Olson, “Costs of Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Investigation Could Be Steep,” Indianapolis Business Journal (Sept. 9, 2011).
13.R. E. Dittmer, “Fatal Injuries at 2011 Indiana State Fair Result in Safety Violations Assessed Against Three Organizations, ” Indiana Department of Labor, Press Release, Feb. 8, 2012,

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On Aug. 13, 2011, at 8:45 p.m. country music fans were eagerly awaiting the band Sugarland to make its entry onto the main stage at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Also competing for the fans' attention was an approaching storm. Sugarland never made their entrance. At 8:49 p.m. the stage rigging was hit by 59 mile/h (94 km/h) winds causing it to collapse, killing seven people and injuring 58. 1 A simplified facsimile model of this collapse is presented here that can be used as a case study in applying fundamental physics concepts appropriate for an introductory class. It is a forensic physics/engineering investigation. Afterwards, key aspects of the actual investigation will be presented.


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