Who are Forensic Engineers and Why Do We Need Them

Don’t you love watching your favorite crime drama where a criminal commits a murder and a team of forensic investigators searches for clues to nail down a suspect? For most of us, forensic investigation is all about solving mysterious murder cases and criminal conspiracies. However, in real life, forensic investigators and engineers do a lot more than this.

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It is absolutely true that the field of forensics deals with determining culpability. But this culprit is not always a criminal. A forensic engineer, in fact, uses methods to determine the cause of various structural or component failures, such as a bridge collapse, building destruction or on a small scale the failure of materials or components.

Basically, that means forensic engineering deals with figuring out why a structure, material or component failed to perform as intended. After determining the cause, those findings can be used as evidence in court. A forensic investigation is necessary for such cases where a fire outbreak or any other structural or mechanical failure caused death, injury, property damage, or was related to some other criminal case. Moreover, through forensic engineering, experts determine the cause of a failure in order to improve construction processes so the same mistake doesn’t happen again in the future.

Why do we need forensic engineers?

A forensic engineer is needed for investigating cases like a major car crash, bridge collapse, fire outbreak, or failed machinery and equipment, in order to collect evidence, investigate the cause, and testify in court if needed. Typically, forensic engineers are independent entities hired by law enforcement agencies and organizations for investigation and consultation of cases. Crime investigator, on the other hand, works for government agencies.

A forensic engineer basically performs two roles: a detective role and an engineering role. In the first phase, as a detective, the forensic engineer search for clues at the scene to determine what happened by collecting pieces of evidence. For example, if a bridge has collapsed, the engineer will examine support beams, load capacity, burst pipe, coatings, weld joints, etc. to find the fault point. When a case involves any injuries or property damages, forensic engineering results can be used as evidence in a potential court case. Moreover, the identified cause of the failure is used to prevent such cases in future. Thus, with the systematic forensic investigation, there is always a story to be told about exactly what happened.

What makes Forensic Engineering so important?

With increasing cases of industrial accidents, structural collapse, and mechanical failures, today forensic engineering has become more important than ever. If we look at these cases, it’s clear that no two cases are exactly alike. The professionals not only determine the cause but their investigation also acts as testimony in litigated matters. For instance, a forensic engineer investigating a car accident will look for all the possible evidence in and around the vehicle. The investigator will also determine the angle of impact, the speeds of the vehicles involved, use of seat belts, in addition to analyzing debris and interviewing bystanders to get witness testimony.

 

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