The Twin Towers Case Study

Level: Level 1 Special Technology Programme

Aims: To illustrate the importance of materials science in a real-life situation.

Assessment: Poster Presentation

Key Skills: Group working, communication, organisation.

This is a group based case study which requires you to examine the material and design influences on the collapse of the World Trade Centre.

Two timetabled sessions are given to provide you with background information on the topic. This includes information on materials (steel support beams and materials behaviour with fire exposure) and design (open plan design and stress analysis). You are expected to work co-operatively in your teams to research into the topic.

At the end of this case study, you should be able to:

  • List the basic criteria for the skyscraper design used for the World Trade Centre
  • Define basic materials properties (Strength, stiffness, fire resistance, resilience)
  • Discuss the effect of temperature on specific materials properties e.g. strength

Student Output

Each group will design and make a poster to present at the end of the case study. For tips on how to design effective posters click here


Bolton, W. (1996) Materials and their Uses, London, Butterworth Heinemann pp188