Tel: 020 7726 49 51 (24 hours)
Email: postmaster@burgoynes.com

FORENSIC MATERIALS ENGINEER

Introduction

We presently have vacancies in our Manchester and Ilkley offices for Materials Engineers to undertake forensic investigations of a wide range of incidents and accidents arising from the engineering failure of a single component or an assembly of components. These investigations will usually be undertaken for insurance related purposes. Our clients include international insurers, loss adjusters, solicitors, marine Protection and Indemnity clubs and insurance brokers. Our clients require clear and accurate technical advice regarding the cause of the incident or accident and assistance with determining liability, sometimes at very short notice.

The Nature of the Work

If you are looking for a routine laboratory or an office based position then this is definitely not the job for you. We are offering you a rare opportunity to enter a unique and very rewarding profession in which the variety and the nature of the technically focussed work is extremely diverse and challenging, thus providing you with what we consider is unrivalled job satisfaction. A key attraction of this role is that you will typically have the opportunity to be responsible for seeing a technical investigation through from beginning to end from initially collecting the evidence on site to preparing the final technical report and ultimately giving expert evidence in Court.

You will have the opportunity to investigate a wide range of incidents and accidents involving the engineering failure of components of all types in a wide range of applications. Consequently, you will encounter a variety of failure modes and mechanisms involving both metallic and non-metallic materials. The entirely unpredictable nature and location of the work are key attractions of this role.

Your work will often require you to visit the location of an incident, sometimes at short notice, to record and gather evidence. The work will often require you to examine and analyse engineering components and other physical evidence in a laboratory environment. There is also a practical element to the job in that on occasion you will be required to carefully dismantle machinery, equipment or component assemblies in a systematic manner to obtain the evidence that you require to determine the cause of the failure. This practical aspect of the work also extends to the requirement to devise and undertake ad hoc mechanical tests, as and when the need arises.

The list below provides an overview of the various aspects of the job:

  • Conducting site-based investigations to record and gather the available physical evidence
  • Obtaining details regarding the background and circumstances surrounding the incident by interviewing individuals associated with the incident.
  • Undertaking telephone enquiries of equipment suppliers and manufacturers to obtain the required technical information.
  • Reviewing technical documentation that may comprise engineering drawings, operating manuals and maintenance records.
  • Consulting relevant standards, regulations and other published guidance.
  • Undertaking technical literature reviews.
  • Providing the client with timely preliminary verbal and/or written advice in a form that can be readily understood by a layperson and ultimately a Judge.
  • Conducting detailed visual and low magnification examinations of failed components, which will often include recording and interpreting fractographic evidence in a non destructive manner.
  • Conducting detailed laboratory based examinations and analyses of failed components that may involve optical microscopy of prepared samples, hardness testing, chemical analysis and the examination and analysis of samples using a scanning electron microscope.
  • Mechanical testing of components or materials.
  • Devising and conducting ad hoc testing of components, equipment or machinery
  • Preparing reports that may be in the form of a brief letter style report or in the form of a detailed, illustrated report for Court proceedings.
  • Attending client meetings to discuss your investigation.
  • Meetings with experts appointed by the other involved parties as part of the litigation process.
  • Providing expert witness evidence in Court, which will involve being questioned in depth by a Barrister, who will be briefed by a technical expert.

Incident Examples

Provided below are a few examples of the types of investigation we have undertaken, which serve to illustrate the diversity of the work that you will encounter with Burgoynes.

  • The collapse of a large storage silo caused by undiscovered corrosion.
  • The bursting failure of a pressurised gas cylinder that was precipitated by fatigue crack growth from a weld defect and which resulted in a fatal accident.
  • The collapse of a large glass reinforced plastic tank used to store acid.
  • An overload induced bending failure of a telescopic boom on a mobile crane causing the load being lifted to fall to the ground.
  • The extensive collapse of industrial racking within a large cold-store facility.
  • The bursting failure of a hydraulic hose on a road-going vehicle resulting in an escape of hydraulic fluid that caused a serious road traffic accident.
  • The stress corrosion induced fracture failure of a brass plumbing fitting resulting in a large escape of water within an apartment block.
  • A water escape caused by the rupture of a polymer water pipe due to localised overheating resulting from the malfunction of a centrifugal pump.
  • The separation of a soldered gas pipe connection that resulted in a gas explosion within a domestic property, with that explosion having already been investigated by others in the LLP.
  • The separation of a fusion welded polymer pipe joint associated with an underground water main.

Our Requirements

The Materials Engineer position is a technically demanding, challenging and most rewarding role requiring not only a thorough understanding of the nature and behaviour of both metallic and non metallic materials but also a strong engineering knowledge base.

Ideally you will:

  • Have attained a good honours degree in a materials engineering related discipline.
  • Have gained several years of postgraduate experience, preferably in an industrial engineering environment.
  • Have an aptitude and enthusiasm for problem solving.
  • Be self-motivated and be able to work effectively under pressure.
  • Have experience of undertaking component failure investigations, which will have included conducting scene inspections in addition to undertaking fractographic and materialographic examinations within a laboratory.
  • Have a practical engineering ability in addition to a strong academic record.
  • Have the ability to communicate technical concepts clearly, both verbally and in writing, to others less informed than yourself.
  • Be prepared to work unpredictable hours, as and where the work demands.
  • Be prepared to provide expert witness evidence in Court when required.

Training and Prospects

Comprehensive “on-the-job” type training in the conduct of forensic investigations and the preparation of reports for our insurance and legal clients will mostly be provided in-house and will be supplemented on occasion by external courses. Career advancement and reward are based on ability and attitude. There may be opportunities subsequently to transfer to other offices overseas.

Package

We offer unrivalled job satisfaction and a highly competitive starting salary with unparalleled prospects. Benefits include five weeks holiday, a contributory pension scheme, medical insurance, life assurance, permanent health insurance and a company car. Where appropriate a relocation package is available. The London Office appointment has London weighting.

Application

Further information and application forms are available from recruitment@burgoynes.com (please include your postal address) or alternatively write to Miss S Ambrose-Kemp, Dr JH Burgoyne & Partners LLP, 11-12 Half Moon Court, Bartholomew Close, London, EC1A 7HF.