Discovery Guides Areas


From Building Design to Prime Time: Forensic Engineering
(Released July 2008)

  by Marianne Stanczak  


Key Citations

Visual Resources

News & Scholars

Resources News Articles
Historical Newspapers

News Articles

  1. Nearby training crew to shed light on disaster - HARBOUR TRAGEDY
    John Stapleton
    The Australian 05-02-2008

    POLICE believe the close proximity of a crew on a training exercise will help investigators determine the cause of yesterday's boating disaster.

    NSW Police, the state coroner and maritime authorities have all launched inquiries into the accident that killed six people. NSW police Assistant Commissioner Peter Parsons said yesterday that the crew on the training exercise arrived at the scene within minutes of the accident.

    "We were able to respond very, very quickly," Mr Parsons said. "They were quick enough to ensure that we took control."

    Mr Parsons said that once the difficult job of identifying the deceased and contacting relatives was completed, the case would revolve around forensic investigation, along with witness interviews and victim statements. . . .

  2. Why bridges fail
    Teschler, Leland
    Machine Design 08-23-2007

    The failure of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis and the ceiling collapse of Boston's Big Dig tunnel have generated a lot of discussion about what causes major structural elements to just disintegrate. The origin of the I-35W disaster won't be known for some time, but history holds lessens about typical problems that can make bridges fail.

    Insights come from the Technical Council on Forensic Engineering of the American Society of Civil Engineers. A rise in structural failures and performance deficiencies led the ASCE Council to study the problem in the 1980s and periodically thereafter. One difficulty it noticed was that designers were losing control over how construction projects were executed. Fast-track approaches to putting up structures saved time and money but made it easier for contractors and designers to misunderstand each other. Worse, they led to lines of responsibility during construction that were unclear. . . .

  3. Getting Your Hands On The Evidence: Heading To The Scene

    Beitman, Ronald S
    Practical Litigator, The 05-01-2006

    Be ready, be safe, and know what to look for.

    NO MATTER HOW WELL you plan ahead, when you get to an accident scene you'll either be missing something or need something you don't have. However, just as in preparation for a hurricane you can anticipate your need for a flashlight, drinking water, a radio, and duct tape, the same holds true in anticipating your work at an accident scene. Keep an accident scene investigation bag with all of your evidence collection equipment in your office. Your bag should include a protective face mask, safety goggles, gloves, flashlight, scalable bags, new metal cans with metal tops (similar to paint cans), duct tape, string and adhesive tags and markers.

    The Twenty-First Century has seen great technological advances in videography. However, if the video you shoot is damaged or lost before a copy can be made you didn't preserve the evidence. Backing-up your video is critical. Your accident bag should include a video camera, a 35 mm camera, a digital camera, and a camera that produces an instant photo. Taking an instant photo at the scene is the only way to really know when you leave the scene, that you captured it.

    SCENE SAFETY * When you meet with your investigative team immediately before preceding to the accident scene, discuss potential safety issues your team may face. The Department of Justice's Handbook of Forensic Science provides safety guidelines and recommends personal protective measures for forensic technicians handling potentially hazardous evidence or exposure to hazardous environmental conditions. The Handbook, which is designed for crime scene investigation, stresses that evidence may have been exposed to human blood and other potentially infectious materials and that technicians also face physical hazards.

  4. Forensic Science

    Giannelli, Paul C
    The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 10-01-2005

    Scientific evidence is often more reliable than other types of evidence commonly used in criminal trials i.e., eyewitness identifications, confessions, and informant testimony. Nevertheless, despite its obvious value, forensic science has not always merited the term "science." Three developments in the 1990s focused attention on its shortcomings: the advent of DNA profiling, the Supreme Court's "junk science" decision, and a number of well-publicized crime laboratory scandals. In light of these developments, and in order to take full advantage of the power of forensic science to aid in the search for truth, a number of reforms are needed: crime laboratories should be accredited, lab procedures should be standardized, and basic research needs to be conducted on many commonly used techniques. Court procedures also require improvement: defense experts should be more readily available to indigent defendants, and more comprehensive pretrial disclosure of the substance of expert testimony should be provided.

    The United States Supreme Court has long recognized the value of scientific evidence - especially when compared to other types of evidence such as eyewitness identifications, confessions, and informant testimony. For example, in Escobedo v. Illinois,1 the Court observed: "We have learned the lesson of history, ancient and modern, that a system of criminal law enforcement which comes to depend on the 'confession' will, in the long run, be less reliable and more subject to abuses than a system which depends on extrinsic evidence independently secured through skillful investigation."2 Similarly, in Davis v. Mississippi,3 the Court commented:
    Detention for fingerprinting may constitute a much less serious intrusion upon personal security than other types of police searches and detentions. Fingerprinting involves none of the probing into an individual's private life and thoughts that marks an interrogation or search. Nor can fingerprint detention be employed repeatedly to harass any individual, since the police need only one set of each person's prints. Furthermore, fingerprinting is an inherently more reliable and effective crime-solving tool than eyewitness identifications or confessions and is not subject to such abuses as the improper line-up and the "third degree."4

    Nevertheless, despite its obvious value, forensic science has not always merited the term "science." Three developments in the 1990s focused attention on its shortcomings: the advent of DNA profiling, the Supreme Court's "junk science" decision, and several well-publicized crime laboratory scandals. . . .

News Articles taken from ProQuest's eLibrary.

Historical Newspapers

  1. New Private Eyes Focus on Disasters; Forensic Engineers Re-Create Conditions in Bid to Place Blame
    bruce keppel
    Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Jan 13, 1985. pg. H1, 2 pgs

    After a giant floating roof over a sewage-treatment tank operated by the city of San Diego at Point Loma collapsed early last year, the city lodged a $1.5-million loss claim against the contractor who built it.

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  2. U.S. Theory Is That Flood Caused Thruway Bridge's Footing to Shift
    Robert O. Boorstin
    New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Apr 9, 1987. pg. B4, 1 pgs

    ALBANY, April 8 -- The swirling floodwaters of the Schoharie Creek may have dislodged gravel and silt around the footings of the bridge on the Gov. Thomas E. Dewey Thruway, causing the center to collapse Sunday, Federal authorities said today.

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  3. In Data Trove, a Graphic Look at Towers' Fall
    James Glanz, Eric Lipton
    New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Oct 29, 2002. pg. A1, 2 pgs

    There is a computer image that captures the jetliner's nose as it splays open like a log being split, its wings shearing apart, the entire aircraft dissolving into a hall of steel and aluminum buckshot during its. . . .

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Taken from ProQuest's Historical Newspapers.
  1. Norbert J. Delatte
    Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, Cleveland State University
    His research interests include concrete pavement performance and rehabilitation, nondestructive testing, properties of concrete including roller compacted concrete, and the integration of failure case studies into the civil engineering curriculum

  2. Janet I. Warren
    • Professor, Clinical Psychiatric Medicine, University of Virginia, 2002 - Current
    • Associate Director, Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy, University of Virginia, 1999 - Current
    • Liaison, FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit, University of Virginia, 1996 - Current
    • Research and Policy, University of Virginia Professor, Department of Psychiatric Medicine, University of Virginia
    • Professor, Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy, University of Virginia
    Dr. Warren's forensic interests: Prison liability concerning issues of sexual assault and rape Malpractice of social workers, counselors and therapists on issues of negligent release, failure to warn potential victims of violence, institutional violence and suicide, and boundary violations Litigation involving Department of Social Services placement and employment decision-making and assessments of child sexual abuse, Criminal cases involving serial sexual crime including sexually sadistic murder and serial rape Capital sentencing evaluations including psychodynamcally informed explorations of life history and personality factors Responding to the risk for violence on university and college campuses and in workplace settings Ability to return to work after threatening communications

  3. Toby C. Hayes
    • Vice Chairman, Research, Oregon Health & Science University, 1998 - Current
    • Vice Provost, Research, Oregon State University, 1998 - Current
    • Adjunct Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Oregon State University
    • Professor, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, Oregon State University
    Current research and consulting interests of Dr. Hayes include injury biomechanics, ergonomics, orthopaedic biomaterials, biodynamics of falls, motor vehicle collisions, product liability, patent litigation and forensic biomechanics. Dr. Hayes has qualified in court both as an engineering and a medical expert for cases involving motor vehicle accidents; slips, trips and falls; sports injuries, recreation and safety equipment; industrial injuries, ergonomics and repetitive stress syndromes; and medical malpractice. Wilson C. "Toby" Hayes, Ph.D., has more than 30 years of academic and consulting experience in biomechanics, orthopaedic research and injury reconstruction, nearly 20 years of it teaching anatomy at Harvard Medical School and bioengineering at MIT

  4. Raphael H. Grzebieta
    Principal Forensic Engineer, Forensic Engineering, DVExperts Pty Ltd., 2005 - Current
    Prof Grzebieta is a Principal and Director of DVExperts International. He has carried out numerous accident reconstruction analyses and has acted as an expert for insurance companies, legal firms, and for criminal and coronial inquests. He is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Monash University and currently the President of the Australasian College of Road Safety. A/Prof. Grzebieta heads up a road-safety & crashworthiness research team in the Engineering faculty at Monash that have carried over 40 crash tests related to crashworthiness and impact engineering. He has published over 140 papers in structural crashworthiness research, accident investigation, failure analysis, numerical modelling and experimental crash testing. He is also a member of and contributes to a number of road safety, editorial and national and international standards committees including the CE/33 committee that compiled AS/NZS 3845 Road Safety Barriers and NCHRP 350 International working group. His research team has carried out over 30 crash tests and numerous computer modelling and theoretical studies to date investigating and mitigating injuries in truck under-run, far-side impact, roll-over and roadside barrier crashes

  5. Franz N. Rad
    Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Portland State University
    Dr. Rad's research is focused on behavior of structural components and connections, earthquake damage assessment of urban areas, retrofit of structures for earthquake-resistance, and forensic engineering. Furthermore, his research interests include developing more efficient design of structural members and connections to help the structural engineering community and the construction industry. Research projects include conducting a survey of the seismic hazards for about 50,000 non-residential buildings in Portland, Oregon, and developing earthquake damage and loss estimation models for buildings. Experimental research projects utilizing PSU's Seismic Testing and Applied Research (STAR) Laboratory include: behavior of grouted conduit connections under cyclic loading, capacity of J-bolts in masonry walls, and behavior of hollow clay walls retrofitted with fiber reinforced composites, under cyclic loading

Scholars taken from ProQuest's Community of Scholars