Forensic Engineering Expert Witnesses Part 1

Joseph E. Bonadiman, PhD, PE, writes on Experience versus education in forensic engineering:

Much like the argument for nature versus nurture in determining the outcome of an individual’s personality, experience versus education in forensic engineering is a subject of contention when it comes to choosing an expert witness. This article defines education as academic education from study and schooling where bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees are earned. Experience is defined as education derived from persistence in an occupation that has resulted in the accumulation of wisdom gained from observation and insight.

So, what is more important, experience or education, when choosing an expert witness? When considering a bridge failure, for instance, is it more beneficial to know the modulus of elasticity of steel and vector dynamics or why a similar bridge failed 10 years ago under similar conditions? Who is informed? Who would go in the right direction in an investigation? Who would provide the most appropriate testimony for the client?

Excerpted from The Forensic Examiner, Winter, 2007