Crane Safety

Family's Gift to Improve Crane Safety

March 14, 2023
By Robert Stalker

In April 2019, 19-year-old Sarah Pantip Wong, a bright first-year student at Seattle Pacific University, lost her life when a tower crane toppled over and collapsed beyond the confines of a construction site, spilling into traffic and crushing the Uber vehicle she was in. Sarah, another passerby, and two ironworkers died. In response to this incident and with a commitment to addressing the pervasive issue of crane safety, Andrea Wang and Henry Wong, Sarah’s parents, have partnered with researchers from Georgia Tech to establish the Crane Safety Research Center. 

William Singhose, a distinguished professor at Georgia Tech specializing in automation and mechatronics in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, emphasizes the gravity of the crane safety problem. With millions of cranes in operation worldwide, the United States alone experiences multibillion-dollar losses due to crane accidents, leading to hundreds of deaths each year. Singhose, through his extensive research, private sector engagement, and educational initiatives, is dedicated to addressing these issues comprehensively. 

The Crane Safety Research Center at Georgia Tech collaborates with researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Washington to bridge the gap between engineering curricula, practical applications, and legislation. Wang, Sarah’s mother, underscores the disconnect between academia and construction practices, advocating for a more integrated approach. 

Focusing primarily on tower cranes and boom cranes, the center aims to precisely calculate the potential falling distance of cranes during tower crane assembly, disassembly, and reconfiguration procedures. This critical data will facilitate a more accurate determination of public safety zones, thereby enhancing overall safety protocols. Building on principles taught in Singhose’s Emerging Technology Law curriculum, another dedicated team of researchers will delve into the legislative landscape surrounding crane safety, leveraging the center’s findings to formulate recommendations for legislative improvements. 

Thanks to the unwavering support from the Wong family, the Crane Safety Research Center is poised to make profound impacts on crane technology, procedural enhancements, and the formulation of public policies. Wang hopes that the research center creates new knowledge and technology, advancing crane safety and informing public policy to safeguard lives — the public and workers. The Seattle incident, like many others, was entirely preventable — and the Wong family hopes the Crane Safety Research Center can find the solutions to eliminate all death and injury by tower cranes. Wang said, “Together with Georgia Tech, we are steadfastly committed to preventing future tragedies and elevating crane safety standards globally.”

To inquire about making a gift or commitment in support of the Crane Safety Research Center or the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, contact Senior Director of Development Jaimie Hayes at