S-E-A’s Fact-Finders

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July 3, 2017 by bbutler1969

Founded in Columbus in 1970 to provide fire investigations, S-E-A (short for Scientific Expert Analysis) offers mechanical, electrical, civil industrial, biomechanic and biomedical forensic engineering services in 11 locations around the country. Lawyers, insurance companies and others rely on S-E-A’s engineers, chemists and investigators to test, research and analyze product safety and evaluate product failures for everything from golf carts to roller coasters.  They, in turn, rely on S-E-A’s librarians.

SEAS-E-A was the second stop on this summer’s roundup of special library tours organized by the Central Ohio Chapter of the Association for Information Science and Technology (CO-ASIS&T).

Pat Connor and Lisa Elliott, S-E-A’s research librarian and library electronic resources coordinator, described how they manage a user-centric knowledge repository, promote colleague collaboration through resource-sharing, and provide professional research consulting services to S-E-A associates. Laws, regulations, industry standards, news, professional literature, Consumer Product Safety Commission files and building codes are some of their most-used information resources. 

To help their colleagues identify, locate and request information, Pat and Lisa developed Fido, an integrated library system that now contains more than 20,000 catalog records, upwards of 7,000 uploaded documents, and about 350 pieces of forensic engineering equipment. The name “Fido” was the result of a company-wide naming contest.  Lisa and Pat designed a scavenger hunt to celebrate Fido’s first birthday, challenging engineers to use Fido to answer questions like “In which S-E-A office is located the 2000 International Plumbing Code?” and “In which American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) Volume is ASTM E811?” 

For National Library Week (April 9-15, 2017), Lisa and Pat offered their colleagues a bookmark printed with Groucho Marx’s saying, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

An analytical chemist described how she tests fire debris. Failure of metal, plastic, glass and other materials is carefully studied in a materials lab.  In S-E-A’s vehicle inertia measurement facility, the rollover resistance of all new vehicles is tested for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

The vehicle and biomechanics library in the building’s west wing houses Society of Automotive Engineers reports and technical papers, product literature, vehicle manuals and professional journals like NSC Accident Facts and Traffic Injury Prevention. Another small library was filled with more printed material, mostly cataloged using the Library of Congress’s classification schedule T, for Technology. 

In S-E-A’s candle lab, associates can test up to 3,600 candles a day, 21 hours per day, seven days per week. They monitor samples of candle batches as they burn, noting flame height, the “mushroom cap” of wicks, burn time, wax residue, potential shattering hazard and other characteristics that might impact product safety. Scorch potential is assessed by the wooden squares, which emulate kitchen countertops or table surfaces upon which the candle might be placed in a home setting. Decisions about raw materials and recipes used in the production of candles, together with production demand tied to retail seasons, can also depend on the candle lab’s findings.


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