What the Heck is Forensic Engineering?

By Carol Chavez, Business Manager & Development Lead

When I first interviewe10016 JMF 1-011d for my position with AEI Corporation, I knew this was a question I needed the answer to. What I have learned in my four years with AEI is that forensic engineering is a fascinating, vital, powerful and ever evolving profession and field.

Wikipedia defines forensic engineering as the investigation of  materials,  products,  structures or components that fail or do not operate or function as intended, causing personal injury or damage to property. The field also deals with retracing processes and procedures leading to accidents in operation of vehicles or machinery. Generally, the purpose of a forensicengineering investigation is to locate cause or causes of failure with a view to improve performance or life of a component, or to assist a court in determining the facts of anaccident.

In more “exciting” terms, forensic engineers investigate to determine the cause of fires, explosions, carbon monoxide incidents, chemical accidents, mechanical failures, construction defect or structural failure, electrical failures, and the list goes on. Forensic engineers may specialize in the disciplines of civil, mechanical, chemical, electrical and many others.

I have learned that a good forensic investigator is extremely detailed oriented, methodical and careful in their work, copious in their note taking, material review, site inspection, photography, diagram creation, testing using the scientific method, and forever eager to continuing learning and expanding their knowledge base. Integrity is critical and even if the answer is perhaps not what a client is hoping to hear, the truth and the facts are what a good forensic engineer is going to deliver.

I feel fortunate to work in this field and with the professionals I interact with each day. I too am an eager learner and working in forensic engineering has given me a dynamic and never ending opportunity to do just that.

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