Making sense of disasters: U of T Engineering offers new certificate in Forensic Engineering
The 2008 Sunrise Propane plant explosion in Toronto is one of the case studies taught in Professor Doug Perovic’s Forensic Engineering course. The course will be part of a new Certificate in Forensic Engineering, launching in Fall 2017. (Credit: Michael Gill via Flickr, under creative commons).
When theSunrise Propane plant explodedin August 2008, killing plant worker Parminder Saini, police, fire and ambulance were called first — and then forensic engineers.
Forensic engineers are trained to find and analyse data from disasters, accidents and failures, and present an unbiased assessment of what the underlying cause may have been.
“Unlike some witnesses, physical evidence has no opinion, no bias and never lies,” says forensic engineerDoug Perovic, a professor in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto.
Forensic engineer Professor Doug Perovic (MSE) dismantled propane tanks involved in the Sunrise Propane plant explosion to look for the cause of the accident. (Courtesy: Doug Perovic)
The Sunrise Propane explosion, Radiohead stage collapse in 2012, falling glass from the Shangri-La hotel in Toronto, and the painful fracture of an Ottawa woman’s prosthetic hip implant are just four of the cases taught in Perovic’s Forensic Engineering course, the first of its kind in Canada and now core to a new Certificate in Forensic Engineering offered by the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. The certificate will be offered to undergraduate students starting in 2017-2018.
Perovic is one of the top experts in his field, having led more than 500 product liability investigations over a 25-year career. In his course, students are exposed to investigative techniques such as how to conduct destructive and non-destructive testing, how to interpret the evidence left behind on a fracture surface or at the scene of a vehicle collision, and how to narrow down the origin and cause of a fire.
The course features renowned guest experts from Canada’s top forensic engineering firms to cover principles of investigation involving product failure, automobile and aircraft accident reconstruction, and fire and explosion. It concludes in a mock trail, with lawyers from top law firms participating in demonstrations of expert witness cross-examinations.
“Most importantly, this course teaches students how to apply their engineering knowledge to ask the right questions when investigating a complex, often messy, real-world problem from beginning to end,” says Perovic.
This image, generated by a scanning electron microscope, reveals the fatigue crack origin in a hip implant caused by a manufacturing defect. (Courtesy: Doug Perovic)
Students will examine physical evidence using sophisticated lab equipment at theOntario Centre for the Characterisation of Advanced Materials(OCCAM), jointly operated by the Materials Science & Engineering and Chemical Engineering departments. OCCAM’s scanning electron microscopes are a powerful tool for forensic engineers — they can produce high-resolution images of a fracture surface, which can help identify the fracture origin and indicate the mode and mechanism of failure.
Components from surgical implant failures, athletic equipment failures, corrosion investigations and foreign materials and residue analysis are a few examples of the evidence that has been brought to OCCAM for investigation by forensic engineers.
“This new certificate will create a unique opportunity for students to gain specialized expertise and recognition for a personal and professional commitment to enhanced engineering investigation skills,” explains Perovic. “Learning how to think more logically is crucial for the development of good forensic engineering skills.”
With only 24 hours in a day, it can be difficult to strike a balance between coursework, jobs, extra-curricular activities, a social life and other obligations. Time-related stress is a fact of university life. Students... Read more »
Complete an Arts & Science course in an international destination in as little as 3-6 weeks during the summer! Join us to learn about Summer Abroad courses you can take this summer. Over 20 destinations... Read more »
The Daisy Intelligence Hackathon is a 24-hour programming competition. Your challenge is to solve related parallel computing problems in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The goal? Beat your competitors for a chance... Read more »
Networkers Technology is partnering with Victoria University and the University of Toronto to present Women in Tech, an evening of discussion, demonstration, and networking on February 1st. The event’s focus is to shed light on... Read more »
Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) is proud to present our 6th Annual National Conference! The National Conference serves to empower and inspire individuals to pursue their passions, explore new opportunities and to make meaningful,... Read more »
Coping with the rigours of an engineering curriculum, navigating complex university systems and adapting to a new environment can be exhausting. Investing in being happy, healthy and well provides a foundation for achieving balance and... Read more »
Can’t find information you need for your design project? In this workshop you will learn what standards, technical reports and patents are, what kind of information they contain and where to find them. Register online.
Last day to drop Y (full-year) courses without academic penalty. A student taking a full-year core course will not be allowed to drop this course in the Winter Session if a recalculation of his or... Read more »