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“Learn the step-by-step process of gaining recognition as a forensic engineer that will make your testimony creditable.”

By John D. Gaskell, Retired Consulting Engineer

Author of “The Complete Guide to FORENSIC ENGINEERING

Gaining recognition is important for forensic engineers.

Forensic engineering is defined by the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE) as “the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to, the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution.” These engineers serve as consultants to the legal profession and as expert witnesses in courts of law.


As a graduate engineer I was a “nobody”. I came from a blue-collar family and had never even seen the inside of a Country Club. But, I was savvy enough to realize that I needed to start gaining recognition and building an outstanding reputation, with more credentials.

As soon as you graduate, start attending meetings of local engineering/industry organizations. Even if you don’t yet have a job, it will give you an opportunity to meet fellow engineers, contractors, manufacturers’ representatives, architects, inspectors, distributors and other contacts that might help you get a job or help you in other ways.

One of the most important organizations for engineers is the local/state chapter of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). Here you will meet the “players” in the engineering profession and people who will be your colleges, future competitors, or future employees. In most cases, you don’t even need to join to attend meetings. These are usually evening dinner meetings with a guest speaker.

At meetings, collect business cards from those that you want to get to know. Start making a “Contact List, including both business and personal information. You will form a quicker and closer friendship if you can remember that he/she has an interest in baseball and has a 3 year old daughter, named Michelle.

Initially, my “resume” included membership in various organizations. My next goal was to become a board member of the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers. I asked the local president if there were any committee openings; there are always openings. I chose to become Publications Committee Chairmen, which qualified me to attend monthly board meetings and meet the leaders, and be seen and known. Soon I met the Nominating Committee Chairmen. After our friendship cemented, I expressed interest in being on the board and I became Treasurer the following year (most nominees run unopposed). That put me on the “ladder” and I became RISPE President in four years. After my Presidency, I nominated one of the recent Past Presidents for the “Engineer of the Year Award”; not surprisingly, in a few years he nominated me.

I don’t mean to imply that all this was easy; it took a lot of hard work. But, with determination and effort, you begin gaining recognition and establishing credentials that will eventually distinguish you from your competitors. The important lesson here is: “It doesn’t just happen – You make it happen”.

As a consulting engineer, you will frequently attend “interview meetings”; where Building Committees select architects and engineers for their projects.

In your consulting engineering career, you will be required to speak before both small and large groups. If you want to be successful as a consulting engineer, don’t be afraid to build yourself up. Fortunately, your work as an officer of professional organizations will give you many opportunities to hone your skills as a public speaker.

Litigation consulting is interesting, challenging, and profitable. If what is involved interests you, I recommend adding “Forensic Engineering” to your practice as a consulting engineer. But, first start the process of gaining recognition as a forensic engineer that will make your testimony creditable.

Get Jack’s new book: The “Complete Guide” to FORENSIC ENGINEERING to learn the details. Also, the largest chapter in his book: The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING covers the “highlights” of Forensic Engineering. Visit to find out more.

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