A common principle utilized in establishing the cause of failure of a structure or product is reverse engineering. This is a process forensic engineering expert witnesses understand and frequently undertake, possibly under the guise of a different name, e.g. Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA).
What appears an obvious methodology to many engineers is not always adhered to and frequently overlooked, but does require a disciplined analytical approach. The scientific method of determining the cause of such an incident requires the Forensic Engineer to:
* State the problem * Carry out numerous observations * Formulate an hypotheses as to the cause * Carry out any testing considered necessary * Analyse the results * Draw a conclusion
Excerpted from the Society Of Professional Engineers.