Forensic Engineering = Detective Engineering
Forensic engineering is the application of science and engineering to failure investigations. It’s a relatively new term, though practiced in every engineering discipline for years. Failure does not always imply collapse or loss of life; it refers to a structure or component not performing as was intended. The successful determination of cause of failure is usually based on the scientific method: stating the problem, making observations, developing failure hypotheses, testing the hypotheses, and forming conclusions. There have been many widely publicized failures including the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the walkways at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, and the recent bridge in Minneapolis. Dr. Fowler’s presentation will provide examples of forensic investigations related to buildings and materials and will also describe the potential benefits of a career in forensic engineering.
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Dr. David W. Fowler is the Director of the International Center for Aggregates Research at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a recipient of the ACI Delmar Bloem Award and the Robert Philleo Award, and Fellow in the American Concrete Institute, the ASCE, and the Architectural Engineering Institute. He was named honorary member of the Russian Academy of Engineering in 1992, and inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 1998 for his work in the “development and application of concrete-polymer materials”.