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.
The field of forensics indeed 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 the failure of materials or components on a small scale.
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 cases where a fire outbreak or any other structural or mechanical failure caused death, injury, property damage, or was related to another criminal case. Moreover, through forensic engineering, experts determine the cause of a failure 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 to investigate cases like a major car crash, bridge collapse, fire outbreak, or failed machinery and equipment 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 to investigate and consult 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. Forensic engineering results can be used as evidence in a potential court case when a case involves any injuries or property damages. Moreover, the identified cause of the failure is used to prevent such cases in the future. Thus, with 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.