Forensic Engineer Education

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Unlike other professions, forensic engineering programs are non-existent. Instead, a prospective forensic engineer must first earn an engineering degree, gain experience, pass a difficult exam, then complete a process focusing on forensic engineering. But like other careers, a disciplined student can reach their career goals within 5-6 years after high school. The following information is related to the courses you should focus on when in route to becoming a forensic engineer.

The bottom line is that a prospective forensic engineer must earn a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering before he/she may continue on to focus on ‘forensic’ engineering. Generally, you want to major in a relevant sub-field of engineering, such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering or computer engineering while earning your degree. During the coursework, a forensic engineer needs to learn how to determine the events leading up to a structural or design failure, therefore, he or she must be familiar with many different types of materials, products, components and structures before entering into the profession. This knowledge is gained through an extensive, rigorous and intense plan of study set forth by the FECC, or Forensic Engineering Curriculum Committee. Below is the names of the courses in which a student should be taking.

Forensic Engineer Curriculum

Universities or colleges who have a forensic engineer program should follow the following curriculum guidelines set forth by the Forensic Engineering Curriculum Committee:

  • Introduction to Forensic Engineering
  • Product LiabilityFE
  • Forensic Engineering Project
  • Advanced Forensic Engineering Techniques
  • Computer Applications in Forensic Engineering
  • Engineering Ethics
  • Mathematics
  • Human Factors in Engineering
  • Safety Engineering
  • Applied Ergonomics
  • Legal Aspects of Engineering Practice
  • Photogrammetry
  • Medical Device Accidents and their Engineering Analysis
  • Combustion
  • Human Error and Human Reliability Assessment

The plan of study should consist of at least 33 semester hours of graduate credit. A core 15 semester hours is devoted and applied to forensic engineering. Universities can usually meet this requirement by employing adjunct faculty who are practicing forensic engineers.  For students who want to help a particular university or college meets these requirements, direct them to the NAFE website where they can download all curriculum requirements.

Forensic Engineer Examinations

For those seeking to become a professional engineer in the United States, they must first take and pass the difficult Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. The PE (as it’s commonly referred to) exam is created and scored by NCEES, or the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Prospective forensic engineers can take the exam in one of many disciplines such as mechanical, civil, environmental, structural, or industrial to name a few. After completion of the PE exam, one must then take the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. Anyone who holds a degree in engineering is qualified to take this exam. Some States do not require this exam as a part of their requirements for licensure, so be sure to check with your State department.  The PE exam is an 8-hour, 80-100 multiple choice question exam that is administered in one day, with a lunch break separating the day into 4-hour blocks. Depending on your discipline there may be an essay that is required.

Education Path for the Forensic Engineer

Here is a quick breakdown of what you need to do to become a forensic engineer:

  • Get a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering
  • Major in an engineering sub-specialty field
  • Take on an internship to gain experience
  • Contact your State to find out which exams are needed
  • Complete and pass your State’s examinations
  • Contact the International Institute of Forensic Engineering Sciences, IIFES
  • Apply to their program
  • Contact your State for further requirements to become licensed
  • Get your license
  • Find employment and start working!