The term “forensics” tends to conjure up images of a group of hard-boiled detectives prowling about a crime scene. They search for clues left behind by the perpetrators, hoping to piece together what happened.
But not everyone who works in forensics is dusting for fingerprints or taking DNA samples. Forensic engineers investigate an entirely different type of scenario. However, they have a similar goal to forensic detectives: to discover what occurred. Read on to learn what forensics engineers do and how they do it.
What Is Forensic Engineering?
Forensic engineering combines the investigative principles of forensics with the structural know-how of engineering to investigate machinery or structural failures. This information aids in legal proceedings and insurance claims.
Types of Incidents Forensic Engineers Investigate
Forensic engineers investigate “structural failures,” an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of incidents. A few of the scenarios where a forensic engineer’s expertise may be necessary include:
- A building or roof collapses
- A bridge falls
- Fires and explosions destroy property
- Structural accidents that lead to bodily harm
- A defective product hurts someone
- Scenarios where soil may be unfit for construction purposes
- Electrical failures that cause damage
Tools Forensic Engineers Use in Investigations
With such a wide range of scenarios, how forensic engineers do what they do varies widely. So naturally, this isn’t an extensive list of forensic engineering tools, but these are some of the major resources.
An X-ray is one forensic engineering tool that most people know of because of its role in other industries, such as medicine. In the world of forensic engineering, X-rays examine any internal defects of materials without needing to take them apart. This is especially valuable early in an investigation to give an initial idea of what could have caused a failure and help determine a piece’s current structural integrity.
Infrared technology, such as infrared cameras, is another more common piece of tech used in forensic engineering investigations. This technology helps detect energy wavelengths invisible to the naked eye, converting them to an image that shows the temperature of different parts of that image.
Forensic engineers can use these types of images to help them investigate explosions and fires by determining the heat level of a structure or device and how hot the area got. This information can help inform where a fire started, how far it spread, the type of fire, and even the cause.
Ohmmeters and Megohmmeters
For forensic investigations surrounding electrical failures and similar incidents, an ohmmeter or megohmmeter is an essential piece of equipment. An ohmmeter determines the level of electrical resistance in a device, while megohmmeters allow for a resistance reading on particularly low or high resistance devices. Knowing this can determine a machine or device’s condition at the time of the failure.
Dreiym Engineering’s electrical consulting services include forensic engineering to help determine the cause of electrical failures. Contact us today for your consultation.