Forensic Engineering is a subset of engineering that combines civil engineering and the science of forensics. It involves the study of buildings or materials that have failed to perform as expected. The job of a forensic engineer is to try and recreate the accident, usually using a computer or IT model, to see if the failure was a result of a design or material failure. They are usually hired by companies for civil or criminal law cases. Below are some common terms used with forensic engineering.
FMEA – FMEA stands for failure mode and effects analysis. It is usually used for product development, but in the case of forensic engineering it is used to help diagnose what caused the accident. Failure modes are errors or defects in design, while effect analysis examines what happens as a consequence of those failures.
Modeling – A recreation of the disaster and subsequent damage using modeling. In the modern world this involves using IT and computer science to recreate the accident. Engineering companies will then consult with each other over the analysis of the modeling results to determine any structural, material or architectural flaws.
Expert Witness – A type of witness usually called in civil or criminal trials. This type of witness must be an expert in the field so that a jury or judge can rely on their testimony to be accurate and truthful. A forensic engineer will be called to help determine the reasons for a building's failure and testify in front of a jury or judge on their analysis.
There are many different types of engineers, form civil to structural to computer. Forensic engineering is a unique branch of engineering that focuses on the investigation and study of things that fail to operate as intended, leading to a crime, loss of life, accident, or property damage. These things can include anything from materials and products to machinery and buildings.
Expert engineers in this field are skilled at examining evidence to come up with clues that can lead them to an idea of what happened. Engineers can examine the evidence, present a case at trial if need be, and outline the problem using their backgrounds in science and deductive reasoning. Because everything has a consequence, some people must be held accountable for their actions. So, if a manufacturer failed to make a product properly and it led to a death, for example, a forensic engineer would investigate the case using available clues and testimonies.
Forensic engineers have DNA testing to rely on for conclusive evidence of a crime. After they investigate the situation, they can provide DNA analysis to lawyers and law enforcement personnel. They may be called as an expert witness in a civil or criminal trial. There, they can present their findings in a court of law, whether the case pertains to intellectual property theft, patent violations, or negligence .
Part of a forensic engineer's job is to use science, deduction, event reconstruction, and analysis to determine the cause. People are held liable for their actions, and this is due to the increased study and practice of criminal investigations.