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Anyone in this field?

Anyone in this field?

Anyone in this field?

Just curious if anyone is in the field of forensics?

I have done some investigations pertaining to failures of products and whatnot in my industry (HVAC), but usually for the manufacturer or contractor for whom I worked- nothing legal or anything like that.

I am getting ready to go work for an HVAC design engineering firm. I would like to possibly see if they would like to delve into forensics- perhaps down the road.

If not, I would like to learn what I can so that perhaps, down the road I can break away and begin my own forensics practice. I just earned my PE license, which I hope will be helpful.

Thanks for any help.


RE: Anyone in this field?

There are numerous firms out there that do forensic engineering - Wiss Janney Elstner is one (www.wje.com)

I'm in the structural arena and have done quite a few facility assessment studys which resulted in "fixes" to the buildings.  Its something you generally flow into with experience.  I'm not sure what sort of forensic opportunities there are in HVAC.  

RE: Anyone in this field?

I think there are equipment failure studies, etc...

One of the big forensic firms in my area (Rimkus) is hiring and they mention HVAC equipment analysis as a desired work experience.

I'll look at Wiss JAnneu Elstner. Thanks for the link.

What I want to do is see what it will take to get my firm into that line of business (if they show the interest) or to get me into that line of business on my own.


RE: Anyone in this field?


I know a friend of mine (still structural - sorry - that's my field) that lived in Virginia, who started going around to attorneys and insurance companies, dropping off Statements of Qualification, and hoping for them to turn to him for future "expert witness", etc.

I'm not sure how well he fared, but that was his approach.  My own experience has simply grown out of long term exposure to clients with old buildings, cracks, etc. that required my help.  It forced me into lots of research to understand what I was doing.  Most forensic engineers, I believe, tend to be older guys that have seen it all.  Not that I'm that old. tongue

RE: Anyone in this field?

Sounds good, maybe I can start thinking about it so that when I get older and see it all I'll know what I'm seeing! :D

I saw a link on another thread that to a site called SEAKs, I believe.

I suppose I'll look into that among other things. They talk about marketing, etc....


RE: Anyone in this field?

HVACctrl...much of my practice is in the area of forensics, mostly structural and structural materials.  As JAE noted, you often "drift" into this arena from exposure on projects and building a reputation based on having seen lots of different things.  In my case, I have been involved in structural testing and analysis for many years.

I am familiar with and have worked with (as co-consultant and on other side of fence from) both WJE and Rimkus.

I have done some product failure claim work, mostly related to hunting treestands.  Often I have seen mechanical engineers on the other side of these cases.  I've also worked as co-consultant with mechanical engineers on other product failure cases.  I don't get into HVAC failures except when there's a structural implication (such as when a 3000 lb., improperly anchored package unit decides to become a missile during some our little hurricane events down here in the south).

It's a fun subspecialty (you get paid to learn stuff!), but you have to have a particular demeanor that the attorneys can feel comfortable with or you won't get repeat assignments.  Most good attorneys want you to tell them the upside AND the downside so that they may strategize accordingly.  I think we have an ethical obligation to do just that....not to be a client advocate, but to be an impartial, objective technical consultant.  I have worked on cases where my opinion did not match the direction the client wanted the case to go.  That's the way it goes....but you don't get invited to the party!

Be prepared for....how shall I put this kindly....contentious discussions!  Opposing attorneys have a job to do and you're in the way of that progress, so be prepared to take a few daggers punching through the honey veneer.

There are several Forensic Societies you might check into if you have a significant interest.  NSPE has one and there is an Academy of Forensic Scientists (with an engineering group within it).  I don't recall the acronyms at the moment but you can find them fairly easily.

RE: Anyone in this field?

Thank you for the insights. I will look into your suggestions and keep my eyes open along the way.

I will likely get into product failure analysis as well as other things, not just limited to HVAC, if I do get into it.


RE: Anyone in this field?

HVACctrl - Another "name" in the failure analysis field is "Exponent". Was looking at this month's "ASCE News" a little while ago and saw a "Career Ad" for them. May be worth checking into at http://www.exponent.com/

www.SlideRuleEra.net idea

RE: Anyone in this field?

Thanks SlideRuleEra!

I'll take a look!


RE: Anyone in this field?

I once worked for a small forensic firm - mostly fires and electrical accidents.  The work was mostly regional.  Many of the employees were semi-retired engineers that did not need full-time work.  However, there were a few engineers that did it full-time and have since started their own firm and are doing quite well.  I am now doing some part-time consulting with them and maybe someday I will leave the corporate world and do it full-time.

The work is generally from law firms and insurance companies, so contacts with lawyers and local claims associations are great.  Once you get a few cases and a reputation it starts to expand from there.

The cases can range from the mundane to very interesting.  I enjoy the work, but a few years back I had an opportunity to go back to industry for much more money - which helps a lot with a young family.  Now that I am older, the autonomy of working in a smaller firm, more or less as an independent consultant, has much more appeal.

I hope this helps.  Good luck.

RE: Anyone in this field?

Thanks toiap!

Come to find out, my new company does list forensics as part of their offering. I will ask later to see what, if any of it, I can get into.


RE: Anyone in this field?


I've been in forensics for a few years.  I mainly deal with failure analysis and transportation accident reconstruction, but have worked on a fire case here and there.  Typically deal with law firms and insurance companies.  Sounds like you're on the right track with your new company and recent PE license.  Congratulations and good luck. It’s a great field to get into.  Promoting justice and truth using engineering principles…can’t beat that.



RE: Anyone in this field?

I've done some component level root cause analysis and failure investigation of mechanical systems that were associated with lawsuits.  Product liability suits always need plenty of experts to opine on cause and effect. I'm not an engineer by trade, just a guy with a helluva bunch of experience under my belt. It's a constant tightrope act to not cross the line and make assesments where one is not fully qualified, however, and it needs to translate as such in the technical write-ups.  All in all, it's fascinating work, usually involves some travel and other perks, if you don't mind the report writing and paperwork.

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