Yeah – we do that!

By Carol Chavez

As the Marketing Director for AEI Corporation, one of the most common questions I am asked at events, trade shows, conferences, etc. is “what exactly do forensic engineers do?” Understandably, if you don’t know any forensic engineers, or have not used their services, you may not know the answer to this question. So the trick I am always faced with is how do I explain what a forensic engineer is good for?

It struck me this morning on my way to the office that we hear stories on the news daily about incidents where forensic engineering is applicable. So why not use these incidents as an example to demonstrate how the multi-disciplined forensic engineering staff at AEI Corporation could assist with these incidents. Yeah, we do that! will be an ongoing series that highlights current events and demonstrates the types of work forensic engineering firms provide and why it’s of value.


Our first example is a story out of Denver, CO that aired today. It involves a  2-story house that reportedly suddenly collapsed (click here for that full story). An entire side wall of the house failed, exposing rooms on that side. In this situation, a civil & structural engineer, like AEI’s David Burnett, would be called out to the site to perform an investigation. The goal of the investigation would be to gain understanding into what happened and why.

Following are some areas that would be analyzed with regard to the incident.

-Was the site prepared correctly? Were there issues related to grading, drainage, or excavation that caused the failure?

-Was the house properly designed and were the right building materials utilized in the construction?

– Were the materials used properly designed? Were they assembled correctly? Were there product failures due to manufacturing defects?

-Were there defects in the lumber that was used on the structure? (**It just so happens that David Burnett has a MS in Wood Science & Building Materials Technology)

-Did the general contractor and subcontractors follow the engineering plan and specifications?

-What can be salvaged or repaired and what will it take from a design and cost perspective to make that happen?

You may be getting the idea that there are a multitude of parties involved in the design, material production, and construction in this situation who would want to know the answers to these questions. For example: the architect, excavator, framer and/or mason, product manufactures, material supplier, and general contractor. This is the very reason that a good, experienced civil/structural engineer is so valuable in this type of loss, and why it is true that, the right Intel solves the problem. For more about AEI and engineer, David Burnett, visit

This entry was posted in AEI Corporation, Construction Defect, Forensic Engineering, In The News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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