According to forensics, engineering principles are utilized to look into failures or other performance problems. In addition to carrying out investigations, forensic engineers are required to testify in court regarding their results. Forensic Engineers use their analytical and forensic skills to examine the evidence at the scene of an incident, determine what happened, and assign culpability. If a structural failure happens, their findings might result in safer structures.
Failure inquiry is the best way to define forensic engineering. Even though the primary goal of engineering is to create sound structures and designs that perform securely, failures can nonetheless happen. The most exacting designs might nonetheless fail during and after construction or in the production stages, despite intensive structural and product testing.
Imagine a building collapsing or a car component not working as it should. In that situation, a forensic engineer is in charge of identifying the reasons for failure and offering professional testimony on how to correct a current structural issue.
Investigation and engineering are the two main responsibilities of forensic engineers. Immediately following a building or manufactured part failure, investigative capabilities are required. Forensic engineers collaborate with law enforcement or design teams to look for evidence to explain the causes of failure in cases of catastrophic structure collapse resulting in death, injuries, and devastation or failed experiments. Examples of these occurrences include an automobile crash test in a design lab or the collapse of a half-finished pedestrian bridge at an outside building site. In both cases, a forensic engineer gathers information by examining the debris and gathering proof of the damaged materials to pinpoint the causes of structural failure.
A forensic engineer examines the gathered information and provides a formal assessment of the causes of structural breakdown based on engineering principles and procedures. A forensic engineer’s report may be utilized in court in instances of catastrophic failure. Forensic engineers can be called witnesses in court cases to explain why a structure fell. In cases of product design failure, a forensic engineer works with design and production teams to examine the reasons the materials failed and propose instructions to prevent structural failure from happening again.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), “developing practices and processes to limit the number of failures” is the main goal of the forensic engineering profession (ASCE 2021). The ASCE is a top organization for engineers’ continuing education, and it offers books, continuing education programs, journal publications, and job listings for practicing and aspiring forensics engineers.
CAREER OUTLOOK FOR FORENSIC ENGINEERS
Forensic engineers are not the subject of any career-specific data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But estimates for the linked profession of civil engineering show that between 2019 and 2029, there will be a need for about 5,500 new positions (BLS 2021). To rebuild and repair old structures and guarantee that new infrastructure is secure for civilians, these positions will be required to keep up with construction and project management plans.
Civil and forensic engineers work in a variety of settings, such as offices indoors and outside building sites. Following is a list of the top industries where civil engineers can find work (BLS 2021):
- Engineering services: 49 percent
- State government, excluding education and hospitals: 12 percent
- Local government, excluding education and hospitals: 10 percent
- Nonresidential building construction: 6 percent
- The federal government, excluding postal service: 3 percent
Who is a forensic engineer?
An engineer who focuses on the investigation of structural and mechanical engineering failures and the development of solutions is known as a Forensic Engineer. They assess the issue, identify the cause, and develop suggestions for repair and recovery using engineering principles. Additionally, they collaborate closely with manufacturing groups to develop standards that assist engineers in avoiding project failure in the future. A forensic engineer may be needed by the following organizations:
- Manufacturers who produce faulty goods
- Buildings with issues or defects of structural integrity
- Investigative insurance firms for systemic flaws
- banks that lend to manufacturers, construction firms, and other similar businesses
- Attorneys who appear in court as both the plaintiff and the defendant
- Government organizations that control buildings and materials
What does a Forensic Engineer do?
The role of forensic engineers is unusual for engineers because they don’t build and construct the buildings, structures, and materials themselves. Instead, they serve as experts in crisis response for other kinds of engineers. To achieve this, they investigate the root reason for design failure and determine possible solutions.
Other engineers can use the documentation created by forensic engineers to their advantage while their projects are still in the planning stages. Engineers in other specialized fields can make sure their projects incorporate protections that can stop well-known problems from happening again by using the work of forensic engineers as a guide. The two main jobs of forensic investigators are as follows:
The first step that forensic engineers take when a structured break is to investigate to identify the issue and what caused it. The following are typical reasons for structural failure:
- inappropriate designs
- inferior building materials
- poor work
- inadequate foundations
- Natural catastrophes
Depending on the specifics of the problem, forensic engineers may collaborate with other experts to talk about the objectives of their inquiry and convey crucial information. For instance, if the incident could result in a criminal inquiry, they might offer evidence to the law enforcement agency. In circumstances involving design or manufacturing errors in a product that result in unanticipated repercussions, they may also be useful. A forensic engineer’s work can assist businesses in fixing product flaws and may result in financial compensation for individuals responsible.
The forensic engineer gathers evidence, works with other parties involved, and analyses it using engineering principles to determine what happened. The methods employed by forensic engineers have undergone a significant change as technology has evolved and made it possible to conduct more detailed investigations. The following techniques and resources are used by forensic engineers to identify the root cause of a structural breakdown and create a fix:
- Fracture mechanics is the study of how a load’s weight affects a structure with cracks.
- Utilizing high magnification to analyze materials and observe interactions between minute pieces of matter and their chemical makeup
- Utilizing mathematical formulas to determine how fluids affected the structure is known as computational fluid dynamics (CFD).
- The use of mathematical formulas to calculate the temperatures of various locations within the building is known as the finite element method (FEM).
- Impact dynamics: The use of algorithms and simulations to predict how structures will respond to impacts from moving objects
Forensic engineers produce reports on their findings and suggestions after determining the problem’s cause and coming up with a remedy and then delivering it to the company that requested the information. The reports are used by the company as a resource for the next projects and, if possible, to resolve the existing problem.
HOW TO BECOME A FORENSIC ENGINEER?
To become a licensed engineer, one must complete eight years of post-secondary study and work experience. Continue reading to discover more about the training and certification requirements for forensic engineers.
In India following qualification may asked for: Bachelor of Engineering or Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) or Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE) or Information Technology or Electronics or Electrical and Electronics (EEE) from recognised University or Institute or Master degree in Computer Science or Electronics or Forensic Science with Physics as one of the subjects during all the three years of Bachelor of Science from recognized University or institute.
Generally, High school students interested in forensic engineering should take a great deal of mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and two years of algebra. They should develop a strong background in physics, chemistry, biology, and computer programming or applications.
Forensic engineering courses are only provided by a select few schools and universities. Forensic engineers often have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related discipline as a minimum, and they build their own credentials by work experience and participation in continuing education programs that are relevant to their area of expertise, such as auto accident investigation. A master’s or doctoral degree in their field of specialization, such as mechanical, environmental, or aerospace engineering, is typically required of forensic engineers.
Indian engineering programmes last three years for diploma students and four years for those pursuing a B. Tech. or other degree. IIT is another alternative. Additionally, you must take the entrance exams in order to continue with the course.
Step 1: Graduate from High School (Four Years)
To increase their chances of admission to a reputable engineering college or university program, high school students who want to major in forensic engineering are advised to take as many courses as they can in math, drafting, statistics, the natural sciences, computer science, criminal justice, and communication skills.
Step 2: Complete an Abet-accredited Bachelor’s Degree Program in Engineering (Four Years)
Engineering and associated post-secondary education programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). 4,307 programs at 846 colleges and universities in 41 countries have received ABET accreditation. For professionals seeking engineering certification and license, attendance at a bachelor’s degree program in engineering that has been approved by ABET is necessary for many states.
As structural engineers, a field closely related to forensic engineering, most graduates choose to pursue employment in this field. Students in this program get specialized knowledge in the applications of structural earthquake design and material strength.
Step 3: Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam
The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying offers the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam (NCEES). It is the first test out of two that engineers must pass to get licensed.
The FE test is intended for recent graduates who have already earned or will soon earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering from a program authorized by the EAC/ABET.
There are seven distinct exam categories designed for various engineering specialties:
- Chemical engineering
- Civil engineering
- Electrical and computer engineering
- Environmental engineering
- Industrial and systems engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Other disciplines of engineering
Step 4: Gain Professional Engineering Experience (Four Years)
Most states require candidates to provide documentation of four years of post-college work experience in the engineering sector to be qualified to take the second and final engineering license exam offered by NCEES.
Step 5: Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Exam
Candidates with an ABET-accredited engineering bachelor’s degree and four years of professional engineering experience are eligible to take the NCEES Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) test. Candidates will receive formal licensure credentials as a Professional Licensed Engineer (PE) and become qualified to lawfully practice as an engineer after achieving a passing score set by each state licensing board.
There are numerous specific tests for various engineering specialties, including:
- Agricultural and biological engineering
- Architectural engineering
- Control systems
- Electrical and computer
- Fire protection
- Industrial and systems
- Metallurgical and materials
- Mining and mineral processing
- Naval architecture and marine
Even though the NCEES does not offer a forensic engineering examination, the cross-disciplinary nature of this discipline enables engineers with particular areas of concentration to act as professional experts in particular circumstances. An architectural engineer, for instance, may offer the investigative, structural, and legal expertise required to handle issues linked to structural failure in the event of a bridge collapse.
Step 6: Earn a Master’s or Doctoral Degree (Two to Four Years)
There are various benefits to obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree in engineering, even though it is often not necessary for licensure. Engineering professionals can demonstrate their commitment to the field, specialize and broaden their engineering skills, and increase their earnings with advanced degrees. Engineers with advanced degrees may be more likely to be given the chance to hold leadership positions or participate in professional development initiatives.
Two completely online master’s degree programs are available through East Carolina University’s Department of Technology Systems, both of which are recognized by ABET.
In collaboration with five other universities, ECU also provides an on-site doctoral degree in technology management and occupational safety. Advanced problem-solving techniques and technical decision-making strategies relevant to applied engineering research are taught to students in these programs. These programs train their graduates for upper-level leadership roles in occupational and technical engineering domains that are closely related to forensic engineering.
SPECIALTY FIELDS RELATED TO FORENSIC ENGINEERING
Because structural breakdown can occur everywhere, forensic engineering is a unique multidisciplinary field. Although a forensic engineer may know a range of fields, obtaining board certification in one particular field might assist a candidate to advance their career. A PE license or international equivalent, a master’s degree, and eight years of post-licensure engineering experience are the minimum requirements for the following board certifications provided by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE):
- Coastal engineering
- Geotechnical engineering
- Navigation engineering
- Ocean engineering
- Ports engineering
- Water resources engineering
- Envision sustainability professional
FORENSIC ENGINEER SALARY – HOW MUCH DO FORENSIC ENGINEERS MAKE?
The typical forensic engineer’s income, according to Payscale.com, is $85,525, with bonuses that can total up to $4,966 and profit-sharing opportunities worth up to $5,500. Although the BLS does not provide occupational statistics for forensic engineers, information for the closely similar field of civil engineering shows that civil engineers make an average pay of $95,440 per year (BLS May 2020). Forensic engineers in the lowest 10th percentile earn less than $56,160, while those in the highest 10th percentile make more than $144,810.
Salary calculations for forensic engineers depend on several variables:
- Cost of living in a certain location
- number of years of employment
- number of forensic engineers working in the area at the moment
- employment in either the public or private sector
- Specialization programs or verified lifelong learning