When something big and expensive fails, we usually hear about it in the headlines.  Recent examples include the launch failure of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory and the setback at CERN, apparently caused by a dry solder joint, that resulted in a 12-month delay in their search for the Higgs particle

When something small and cheap fails, it rarely makes the headlines.  Unless, of course, it causes something big and expensive to fail - like a particle accelerator, a satellite or perhaps a semiconductor company. 

In the semiconductor industry, we have built up a system of safeguards and checks to minimize the risk of failure.  We apply these checks throughout the design process, and as a series of sign off steps that precede manufacture. 

I would be interested to understand whether other industries - e.g. avionics or automotive - have built up a similar infrastructure of pre-manufacturing sign off checks.  Do they rely on modeling during design, pre-manufacturing sign off or a combination of both?  Is there anything that we can learn from other industries?  Is there anything that they can learn from us?