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RE: How is an Engineer certified as a forensics expert?

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My experience is that the large firms have a certain clientele that they
work with exclusively, such as insurance companies or trial lawyers.

I have been called in on investigations where the insurance company already
had one of these "big boys" do an investigation and publish a report.
Typically the reports I've read were very poorly written by young engineers
whose first language was not English. They tended to be formulaic, because
many of these companies-not all, but an uncomfortably large number-are
"hired guns." It seems the kids are told what their conclusions should be to
favor the clients' interests, and prepare their reports accordingly.

I hasten to add that this hasn't been the case with all, but with an
uncomfortably large number of them. I would venture even to say "most."

Therefore I've gotten a very bad impression of many of the large forensic
firms. Some you mentioned do have a good reputation, but there are only a
handful of those, and many more besides who are not so objective. I think
the chance is good for a young engineer to just end up in the gristmill.

I got my start in design firms that had a little forensic work on the side,
so they were not dependent on it and on the same old retinue of clients. I
have always written the TRUTH in my reports, according to the best of my
knowledge, and from time to time the conclusions contained are not
necessarily what my client would have chosen, but my efforts have always
been appreciated, and so far they've withstood scrutiny.

It should not be surprising that I believe someone with plenty of design
experience makes a far better forensic structural engineer than someone who
started out with one of the big firms early in his career. As a structural
designer, you are used to solving problems, not mincing words.

William L. Polhemus, Jr. P.E.
Polhemus Engineering Company
Katy, TX, USA
Phone (281) 492-2251
FAX (281) 492-8203
email bill(--nospam--at)

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2002 11:51 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: How is an Engineer certified as a forensics expert?

I will disagree with Bill here.  To me, it depends on which firm and
potentially which office of these firms you are talking about.

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