Utilizing Forensic Engineering

Often when people think forensics, they think crime investigation, but did you know forensics are also used in engineering?

In response to several well-publicized engineering failures, the American Society of Civil Engineers formed the Technical Council on Forensic Engineering in 1982 to develop practices and procedures to reduce failures. This council set the precedent for ethical conduct in engineering practice.

Forensic engineering is the application of engineering principles to the investigation of failures or other performance problems. Essentially, studying failures and developing practices and procedures to reduce the number of failures and provide information on their causes, something Pennoni is uniquely qualified to perform.

Pennoni recently consulted the University of Tampa to perform a structural assessment of the David Falk Theatre. Using forensic engineering, the team assessed the historic facades that had fallen into a state of disrepair with missing sections of cast-stone features and innumerable locations of water intrusion through the building’s exterior walls.

The David Falk Theatre is a fully equipped, 1000-seat historic theater built in 1928. Mainly used for theatrical and musical productions, it makes a great venue for the UT Wind Ensemble and Orchestra. The structure consists of a 4-story steel structure with exterior walls comprised of clay terracotta blocks with a brick veneer and is used to host student orientation, graduation and other critical large events for the university.

Dangerous conditions were identified during the structural assessment, done mainly non-invasively with non-destructive tools (NDTs). NDTs such as infrared cameras, bore scopes, moisture meters and more allowed Pennoni engineers to preserve the buildings integrity with technology and save a small piece of Tampa’s history.

Using forensic engineering to inspect and maintain buildings, clients can preserve both historical structures and those crucial to state operations and more without any detriment to the structures. In the wake of other structural tragedies, it may be the perfect time to consider building inspection and maintenance using forensic engineering.


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