In Memoriam: Steven C. Batterman, PhD, Engineering & Applied Sciences Section

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Source: Mark Marpet, PhD, PE, Director, Board of Directors

With sadness, we regret to inform you of the passing of past AAFS President Steven C. Batterman. A visionary and Fellow of the Engineering & Applied Sciences Section, Dr. Batterman passed away on July 9, 2021. He leaves behind a lasting AAFS legacy, which is best revealed in the tribute to him from AAFS Board Member Mark Marpet and Dr. Batterman’s son and Fellow of the Engineering and Applied Sciences Section, Scott Batterman.

Steve was sui generis. In a world where now Forensic Engineering is a defined career path, he cut his own path. To cite one little (but telling) example, Steve never bothered to get a Professional-Engineering license. He told me that his PhD carried more weight and meaning than taking any PE exam. (He was correct, of course, but it is far less hassle to take the test than to repeatedly explain to lawyers [and others, including me] why he didn’t need to get the license.)

Most of you know that Steve was a Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated first from the Cooper Union School of Engineering (a very small, very prestigious, and, at that time, tuition-free college in lower Manhattan), and pursued his Master’s and Doctoral Degrees at Brown University in Rhode Island. He has presented results of research at major universities in the United States and abroad, lecturing in Poland, England, Holland, Israel, Canada, China, Russia, Taiwan, and Japan.

Steve consulted in the areas of accident reconstruction, occupant kinematics, vehicle dynamics, and biomechanics. On a personal note, I have worked on matters both allied with and against him. The one take-away from all of that is whatever side I was on, it was both fun and educational. With many cookie-cutter forensic engineers, when their name came up, I used to think,“ Not THAT one again.” I never thought that when Steve’s name came up.

I cribbed this, and some of the sentences above, from a speech honoring him before the Academy, given by his son, Scott (Scott’s speech is here very lightly edited):

Dr. Batterman was elected to the AAFS in 1976, promoted to Member in 1979, and to Fellow in 1985. During his service to Academy, Dr. Batterman was elected Engineering Sciences Section Chairman in 1986, to the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, 1987-1996, and served as AAFS President in 1995, receiving the Distinguished Fellow Award in 2001. Serving as a reviewer for more than ten national and international journals, Dr. Batterman joined the ranks of the Journal of Forensic Sciences Editorial Board in 1987, and continued that work until his death. In 1992, Dr. Batterman was recognized for his outstanding contributions to forensic engineering by the AAFS Engineering Sciences Section and was awarded the Section’s Founders Award.

One of Dr. Batterman’s lasting legacies to the Academy was his vision of the Young Forensic Scientists Forum, which held its first meeting in 1995 during his Presidency. Ultimately, Steve’s legacy can best be seen by the fact that his son Scott and grandson Ethan followed his career path. I think nothing speaks more of his impact than that.

When Steve was made, they broke the mold.