STEM Careers: Forensic Engineer

Jonathan McGehee

Jonathan McGehee

Forensic Engineer for VCE Inc.

Graduated from Western Kentucky University

It is amazing when you really think about it. I mean literally everything around us has been engineered.

How did you become interested in engineering, particularly forensic engineering?

I’ve always enjoyed math and science. I love how you can use the principles to solve real problems and understand how things work. My dad worked as an engineer and I really respected the work that he did with the careful analysis and attention to detail that I saw him do. I got involved in forensic engineering at VCE Inc. I am fortunate enough to be a part of a wide variety of different types of investigations. It is very interesting work.

Tell us about your job and what it is you do for VCE Inc.

We are typically hired by insurance companies and attorneys to take a look at various types of failures or accidents where there is a question about how or why it happened. We are there to provide an independent technical assessment. I help with vehicle accident reconstructions, structural damage investigations, roofing damage investigations, water intrusion investigations, sinkhole damage investigations, and blasting damage investigations.

Why is it important to the future of this country to get more students interested in engineering?

It is amazing when you really think about it. I mean literally everything around us has been engineered. Your house, your car, your smartphone, your computer, the internet, your television, the roadways, the bridges, the traffic light timing, the systems that deliver electricity and water and sewer to our homes and schools and workplaces. And when you learn all that goes into even the smallest part of the smallest thing, you realize how many engineers we need to design and maintain these things and to create the next thing that we don’t even have now that will change our lives.

What is the professional goal of a forensic engineer like yourself?

Personally, my goal is to build and maintain a high level of technical competence in order to provide solid, accurate assessments for our clients. Additionally it is important to develop strong interpersonal skills to be able to interact well with other engineering team members and with people who are distressed by the losses we investigate. You also have to maintain a high level of integrity.

What do you think would help get students more interested in engineering at a younger age?

I think if they were shown what real engineers do and how there are engineers behind many of the amazing things they see in our world and how they too could one day put their creative, inventive energies behind an idea and develop it into a physical reality that changes peoples lives for the better, many would embrace that vision and develop an interest in engineering. I mean children are naturally curious, imaginative and creative and I think if they connected that with a compelling vision for where an engineering career could take them and what they could do, it could carry them through the challenges and academic rigors that sometimes throw people off the engineering track.

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