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FORENSIC ENGINEERING/ARCHITECTURE Lecture 1: Introduction

PROF. DR. SYED TAUSEEF AHMAD DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURAL ENGINEERING & DESIGN UNIVERSITY OF ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY, LAHORE

Forensic Science
It is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences to answer questions of interest to a legal system. This may be in relation to a crime or a civil action.
Computational Forensic: concerns the development of algorithms and software to assist forensic examination. Digital Forensics: is the application of proven scientific methods and techniques in order to recover data from electronic / digital media. Digital Forensic specialists work in the field as well as in the lab. Forensic Accounting: is the study and interpretation of accounting evidence Forensic Archaeology: is the application of a combination of archaeological techniques and forensic science, typically in law enforcement

Forensic Engineering
It is the investigation of materials, products, structures or components that fail or do not operate or function as intended, causing personal injury or damage to property.

The consequences of failure are dealt with by the law of product liability.
The field also deals with retracing processes and procedures leading to accidents in operation of vehicles or machinery. The subject is applied most commonly in civil law cases, although it may be of use in criminal law cases.

Generally the purpose of a Forensic Engineering investigation is to locate cause or causes of failure with a view to improve performance or life of a component, or to assist a court in determining the facts of an accident. It can also involve investigation of intellectual property claims, especially patents.

Forensic Architectural Engineer


It is an area of building study that allows the architectural Engineer to focus on ways in which a building can best maintain itself and prolong its life in a cost-efficient manner.

Forensic Architectural engineering refers to the work of expert witnesses presenting spatial analysis in a legal context. Their practice combines the principles of property surveying, structural engineering, the physics of blast forces and the chemistry of composite materials.

A forensic architect/architectural engineer is essentially a professional architect/architectural engineer who applies the art and science of the profession to various aspects of architecture, construction, and legal issues.

Activities associated with architectural forensics include the investigation, determination and causes for deterioration, deficiencies, and failures, in addition to the preparation of reports, and testimony under oath, or offer advisory opinions that assist in resolution of related disputes. The forensic architect/architectural engineer may also be asked to render a professional opinion regarding responsibility for failure or deficiency. In the authors opinion, the forensic architects job description should also include: failure and deficiency prevention and cure.

Forensic architecture has proven that it offers tools that can bring about significant building operating and maintenance cost savings. Both forensic architecture and engineering are essentially processes of diagnosing facility problems and providing solutions, employing a total approach that takes into account all the elements of a building. Forensic architects and engineers also have an important duty to disseminate information (based on their investigations) to design professionals and industrialists to improve design procedure and products so that failures or accidents may be avoided.

Qualifications of Forensic Architect/Engineer


Technical competency: the expert has the knowledge,
skill, training, experience, education, and ability to assist the judge or jury in understanding the evidence or in determining a fact which is at issue in the case.

Communication Skills: The forensic expert needs to be


an effective communicator in both written and oral presentations. Oral skills are particularly important to effective testimony in court or in public hearings. Often, the forensic architect must explain complex technical issues in a manner that is readily comprehensible by the layperson with no technical background.

Knowledge of Legal Procedures: It is important for the


forensic architect/engineer to have a working knowledge and concept of legal procedures and vocabulary used in litigation

Ethical Standards: In addition to objectivity and


impartiality, the forensic expert should be able to work effectively with others, whether in a supporting, cooperating or coordinating team capacity.

Research & Investigation Skills: The primary goal of


an investigation is usually to find the source of the problem, i.e. failure or deficiency, and propose a solution. Research and investigative skills are therefore one of the prerequisites of being a good forensic architect or engineer.

Other Miscellaneous Skills:


There are a number of other skills that would be useful for the forensic architect to have. For example, good photographic skills are important to any investigation. The alternative would be to bring in a professional photographer. It is also important for the forensic architect to have pleasant personality traits and be able to work effectively with others.

Professional Responsibilities & Standards


Increased Litigation surrounding failures and accidents an increased demand for engineering professionals to serve as expert witnesses. National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) has published Guidelines for the Professional Engineer as a Forensic Engineer. The Association of Soil and Foundation Engineers (ASFE) Recommended Practices for Design Professionals Engaged as Experts in the Resolution of Construction Industry Disputes (ICED 1988).

Ethical conflicts in forensic practice arise from the fact that forensic experts are usually retained by parties in the dispute. While attorneys are retained to be advocates for their clients, forensic experts are required to remain impartial and seek the truth even when that truth is in conflict with the clients interest. The forensic expert is required by ethical principles to maintain objectivity. But the experts future income and reputation as a valuable expert witness relies on client satisfaction.

Dissenting viewpoints among competent forensic experts is not unusual. Disagreement does not necessarily imply dishonesty or incompetence on the part of one of the witnesses. There is often more than one way to see a problem and more than one method to resolve it. Failures and accidents are often the result of several complex, interrelated factors. An honest expression of diversity of opinion, through the introduction of testimony by multiple experts, is a healthy approach to seeking truth.

It is important to give appropriate consideration to all contributing factors. Particular care should be exercised in cases involving malpractice charges. The forensic architect has a responsibility to protect the professional reputations of all parties until the investigation is complete. Unclear or premature statements to the media can irreparably damage the professional reputations of innocent parties. As stated earlier, where competency of the design professional is in question, it is the investigators responsibility to determine the standard of practice at the time of design. Current standards and the forensic engineers own design preferences are not relevant to the question of competency.