COVID-19 Update: We are currently shipping orders daily. However, due to transit disruptions in some geographies, deliveries may be delayed. To provide all customers with timely access to content, we are offering 50% off Science and Technology Print & eBook bundle options. Terms & conditions.
Forensic Engineering - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128027189, 9780128027400

Forensic Engineering

1st Edition

Editor: Max Houck
eBook ISBN: 9780128027400
Hardcover ISBN: 9780128027189
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 27th April 2017
Page Count: 328
Sales tax will be calculated at check-out Price includes VAT/GST
Price includes VAT/GST

Institutional Subscription

Secure Checkout

Personal information is secured with SSL technology.

Free Shipping

Free global shipping
No minimum order.


Forensic Engineering, the latest edition in the Advanced Forensic Science series that grew out of recommendations from the 2009 NAS Report: Strengthening Forensic Science: A Path Forward, serves as a graduate level text for those studying and teaching digital forensic engineering, as well as an excellent reference for a forensic scientist’s library or for their use in casework.

Coverage includes investigations, transportation investigations, fire investigations, other methods and professional issues. Edited by a world-renowned leading forensic expert, this series is a long overdue solution for the forensic science community.

Key Features

  • Provides basic principles of forensic science and an overview of forensic engineering
  • Contains sections on investigations, transportation investigations, fire investigations and other methods
  • Includes a section on professional issues, such as: from crime scene to court, forensic laboratory reports and health and safety
  • Incorporates effective pedagogy, key terms, review questions, discussion questions and additional reading suggestions


Graduate students and educators, as well as entry level professionals

Table of Contents

Section 1. Introduction


Principles of Forensic Science

  • What Is Forensic Science?
  • The Trace as the Basic Unit of Forensic Science
  • Two Native Principles
  • Nonnative Principles
  • See also

Forensic Classification of Evidence

  • Introduction
  • Methods of Classification
  • Class-Level Information
  • Uniqueness and Individualization
  • Relationships and Context
  • See also

Interpretation/The Comparative Method

  • Introduction
  • Analogy and Comparison within a Forensic Process
  • The Comparative Method within Forensic Science
  • See also

Forensic Engineering/Accident Reconstruction/Biomechanics of Injury/Philosophy, Basic Theory, and Fundamentals

  • Introduction
  • Basic Principles
  • Methodology
  • Accident Reconstruction
  • See also

Key Terms

Review Questions

Discussion Questions

Section 2. Investigations


Collection and Chain of Evidence

  • Introduction
  • Scene Examination
  • Evidence Collection
  • Control Samples
  • Chain of Custody
  • See also

Accident Investigation—Determination of Cause

  • Introduction
  • Targets
  • Accident Analysis
  • Material Properties in the Contact Area
  • Eccentric Impacts
  • The Full Impact
  • The Sliding Impact
  • Energy Equivalent Speed
  • The Driver's Reaction
  • Sample Case
  • Results
  • Summary
  • See also

Human Factors Investigation and Analysis of Accidents and Incidents

  • HFACS—A Human Factors Investigative Tool
  • Using HFACS to Identify and Address Threats to Quality and Safety
  • Closing Thoughts
  • See also

Major Incident Scene Management

  • Background
  • Scene Control and Coordination
  • Approach to Crime Scene Investigation
  • Initial Assessment
  • Scene Security
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Systematic Collection of Potential Evidence
  • Systematic and Sequential Approach to the Search and Recovery of Potential Evidence
  • Examination Records
  • Ongoing Case Management
  • Summary
  • See also

Crime Scene Analysis and Reconstruction

  • Crime Analysis and Reconstruction
  • Phases of a Crime
  • Evidence Dynamics
  • Role of Physical Evidence
  • Reconstruction—Historical Perspective
  • Who Does Reconstruction
  • Methods of Reconstruction
  • See also

Key Terms

Review Questions

Discussion Questions

Section 3. Transportation Investigations


Railroad Accident Investigation and Reconstruction

  • Introduction
  • Types of Railroad Accidents
  • Event Recorders
  • Procedural Steps to Follow in Railroad Accident Investigation and Reconstruction
  • Human Factors Considerations—Level Crossing Accidents
  • See also

Aircraft Flight Data Recorders

  • Introduction
  • Pursuit of Truth
  • Desired Knowledge
  • Role of Evidence in Establishing Truth
  • Aircraft Flight Data Recorder History
  • Current Recorder State-of-the-Art
  • Cultural Repercussion of Recorders
  • Expanded Employment of Recorders
  • See also

Air-Bag-Related Injuries and Deaths

  • Introduction
  • Historical Context
  • Automotive Industry
  • Human Injuries
  • Specific Injury Patterns
  • Sample Cases
  • Forensics of Air Bag Injuries
  • Summary
  • See also

Electronic Data Recorders (EDRs, Black Boxes)

  • Glossary
  • Background of Electronic Data in Ground Vehicles
  • Retrieving ECU NVRAM Data for Use in Crash Investigations
  • The Use of ECU NVRAM Data in Crash Investigations
  • See also

Analog Tachograph Chart Analysis

  • Introduction
  • The Forensic Use of Tachograph Data
  • The Tachograph Chart
  • The Tachograph Instrument
  • The Principles of Chart Analysis
  • The Accuracy of the Speed Record
  • Falsifications and Diagnostic Signals
  • Case Example
  • Digital Tachographs
  • See also

Traffic Injuries and Deaths

  • Road Traffic
  • Railway
  • Air Traffic
  • See also

Airplane Crashes and Other Mass Disasters

  • Definition
  • Tasks
  • See also

Key Terms

Review Questions

Discussion Questions

Section 4. Fire Investigations


Chemistry of Fire

  • Introduction
  • Conditions for a Fire
  • Fire as a Chemical Reaction
  • Phase Change and Pyrolysis
  • Heat Source and Transfer
  • Flammability Limits, Flash Point, and Fire Point
  • Ignition
  • Conclusion
  • See also


  • Introduction and Overview
  • Physical Thermodynamics: The Relevant Background
  • The Role of Thermodynamics in Fire Investigation
  • Fire: Ignition and Propagation
  • Thermodynamic Classification of Ignition Sources
  • Smoldering
  • Flames
  • Conclusion
  • See also

Thermal Degradation

  • Introduction
  • Thermal Degradation Effects
  • Summary
  • See also

Types of Fires

  • Theory of Fire
  • Physical States of Fuel
  • The Fire Triangle
  • See also

Evidence Collection at Fire Scenes

  • Introduction and Overview
  • Sample Selection and Documentation
  • Comparison Samples
  • Packaging Options
  • Clothing and Shoes
  • Liquids for Comparison
  • Evidence Collection for Other Types of Testing
  • See also

Fire Scene Inspection Methodology

  • Introduction and Overview
  • First Assumptions
  • Planning the Investigation
  • Initial Evaluation: Can This Inspection Be Conducted Safely?
  • Documentation
  • Reconstruction
  • Inventory
  • Avoiding Spoliation
  • Origin Determination
  • Cause Determination
  • See also

Fire Patterns and Their Interpretation

  • Introduction and Overview
  • Plume-Generated Patterns
  • Confinement Patterns
  • Movement Patterns
  • Irregular Patterns
  • Spalling
  • Electrical Damage
  • Clean Burn
  • Intensity Patterns
  • Ventilation-Generated Fire Patterns
  • See also

Analysis of Fire Debris

  • Introduction
  • Evidence Collection—Sampling Containers
  • Preliminary Examination of Fire Debris Samples
  • Extraction and Sampling Techniques
  • Analysis
  • See also

Interpretation of Fire Debris Analysis

  • Glossary
  • Introduction
  • Classification
  • Interpretation of Neat Liquids
  • Interpretation of ILRs
  • Systematic Approach
  • Significance of Findings
  • See also

Suspicious Deaths

  • Cause of Death
  • Manner of Death
  • Death Scene
  • Postmortem Examination
  • Summary
  • See also

Key Terms

Review Questions

Discussion Questions

Section 5. Other Methods


Audio Enhancement and Authentication

  • Introduction
  • Forensic Audio Enhancement
  • Forensic Audio Authentication
  • See also

Investigation and Analysis of Electrical Accidents

  • Investigation
  • Analysis
  • Casework/Examples
  • See also

Investigation and Analysis of Structural Collapses

  • Overview
  • First Steps
  • The Investigation
  • The Investigator/Expert
  • Postinvestigation
  • See also

Biomechanics of Human Gait—Slip and Fall Analysis

  • Biomechanics of Human Gait
  • Gait Characteristics Influencing Slip Initiation, Detection, and Recovery
  • See also

Forensic Chemical Engineering Investigation and Analysis

  • Introduction
  • Fires and Explosions
  • Pollution and Toxic Substances
  • Unrecognized Hazards and Unexpected Consequences
  • Epilog
  • See also

Materials Analysis and Failure Analysis

  • The Role of Materials Analysis in Determining Causation of Failure
  • Techniques for Determining Morphology
  • Techniques for Determining Composition
  • Selecting the Appropriate Technique
  • See also

Key Terms

Review Questions

Discussion Questions

Section 6. Professional Issues


Crime Scene to Court

  • Introduction
  • Task
  • Models
  • Forensic Strategies
  • Integrated Case Management
  • Summary
  • See also

Forensic Laboratory Reports

  • Contents of a Report—A “Science” Standard
  • Contents of Report: Legal Standards
  • Reports: Stand-Alone Evidence or Support for a Testifying Expert
  • Ethical Considerations and Forensic Reports
  • Conclusion
  • See also

Health and Safety

  • Occupational Health and Safety Policy
  • Specific Laboratory Hazards
  • Hazards in the Field
  • See Also

Key Terms

Review Questions

Discussion Questions


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2017
27th April 2017
Academic Press
eBook ISBN:
Hardcover ISBN:

About the Editor

Max Houck

Dr. Max M. Houck is an internationally-recognized forensic expert with research interests in forensic science, education, and the forensic enterprise and its industries. He has worked in all aspects of forensic science, including at the FBI Laboratory. Dr. Houck has published widely in books and peer-reviewed journals. His anthropology and trace evidence casework includes the Branch Davidian Investigation, the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon, the D.B. Cooper case, the US Embassy bombings in Africa, and the West Memphis Three case, among hundreds of others. He served for six years as the Chair of the Forensic Science Educational Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). Dr. Houck is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a founding Co-Editor of the journal Forensic Science Policy and Management.

Affiliations and Expertise

Vice President, Forensic and Intelligence Services, LLC

Ratings and Reviews