Provides Testimony In

Mechanical Engineer Board Certified, Fire Expert, Ignition of Solid, Ignition of Liquid, Gaseous Fuels, Flame Spread, Fire Spread, Flammable Liquid, Self Heating, Spontaneous Combustion, Wildland Fires, Vehicle Fires, Warehouse Fires, Industrial Fires, Explosions, Laptop Fires, Smoke Detector Product Liability, Residential Fires, Fire Reconstruction, Fire Modeling, LNG Spills, Spacecraft Fire Safety, Applied Physics, Aviation Aircraft Fire, Aviation Aircraft Crash, Electrical Transformer Fire, Rack Storage Fire, Naphthalene, Oil Well Gas Ignition, Oil Well Gas Explosion, Hydrogen Explosion, Rocket Propellant Plant, CFD Modeling of Flame, Piloted Ignition, Diesel Engines Applications, Vapor Fuel Radiation Absorption, Combustion Modified Polyurethane Foam, Trajectories of Embers, Combustion Science,Roofing Material Fires

Current Position

Technical Director, Private Engineering, Inc. – California


  • PhD – Engineering Science, University of California, San Diego, 1975
  • MS – Engineering Science, University of California, San Diego, 1973
  • Dr. Eng – Aeronautical Engineering, Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain, 1979
  • Eng – Aeronautical Engineering, Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain, 1968

Expert is an internationally-recognized mechanical/aeronautical engineer specializing in thermo-fluids with emphasis on fire physics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and thermodynamics. His primary areas of specialty include: ignition and fire spread in solid and liquid fuels; self heating and spontaneous ignition of combustible materials; smoldering; wildland fire spotting ignition by metal fragments and embers and subsequent fire propagation; metal particle and embers trajectories in high winds. In addition to teaching, he has conducted research in the above areas funded by NASA, DOD, DOE, NIST, NSF and several industries.  He has also consulted for research organizations, government agencies and industrial companies in a variety of subjects ranging from LNG spills to aircraft fire safety. Expert is currently a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California where he has been a faculty member since 1980.

A significant component of his consulting activities for the last 30 years has included forensic work on mechanical and aeronautical engineering. This work includes cause, origin and development of thermo-mechanical failures, and fires and explosions, with emphasis on the analysis, testing and modeling of the incident. His litigation activities have involved many areas such as ignition of different fuels; fire spread; liquid pool fire burning; self heating and spontaneous combustion; smoldering and flaming; thermal failure of metal structures; pressure failure of containers and pipelines; explosive boiling; embers and hot particle trajectories in high winds; spot ignition of wildland fires by metal particles and embers; aircraft and vehicle fires; pyrotechnic explosions; residential, warehouse and industrial fires and explosions; television and laptop fires; smoke detector failure; fire reconstruction and modeling; and several other areas. He has testified as an expert witness in State and Federal courts.

Work History
2008 – present    Private Engineering Firm, Partner
1986 – present    University of California, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Professor
2010 – present    University of California, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Almy C. Maynard and Agnes Offield Maynard Endowed Chair of Mechanical Engineering
2003 – 2013    University of California, Graduate Division, Associate Dean
1982 – 1986    University of California, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Associate Professor
1980 – 1982    University of California, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Assistant Professor
1980 – present    Freelance technical consultant for liability-related litigation and industry
1980 – 1980    Northwestern University Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Associate Professor
1977 – 1980    Princeton University Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Research Staff Member
1975 – 1976    Harvard University Division of Engineering and Applied Physics, Post-doctoral research fellow

Expert Witness and Engineering Practice
Between 1980 and 2011, Expert has served as a consultant to law firms, industry and government organizations for work related to thermo-mechanical failures, combustion, fire, and explosions.

Representative litigation/expert witness clients include: Available Upon Request

Consulting for other institutionsAvailable Upon Request

Research (representative)

Ignition of Natural Fuel Beds by Embers and Heated/Burning Metal Particles (NSF)

  • The objective of this work is to develop quantitative predictive capabilities for determining whether or not an ember or hot/burning particle will ignite a fuel bed based on particle properties, fuel bed characteristics, and ambient conditions.
  • Experiments and numerical modeling are conducted investigate the ignition of vegetation fuel beds by woody embers, hot molten and burning metal particles.

Tackling CFD Modeling of Flame Spread on Practical Solid Combustibles (NSF)

  • Project involves the development of a generalized pyrolysis model that can simulate the pyrolysis and burning of real-world materials encountered in fires
  • The computer model is coupled to an existing CFD code and used to calculate flame spread on real-world solid combustibles over a range of length scales.

Smoldering Combustion and its Transition to Flaming in Spacecraft (NASA Space Flight Program)

  • Research concerns smoldering and the transition to flaming of foams, composite, and cellulosic materials
  • Experimental studies performed at normal gravity and in reduced gravity in the Space Shuttle

Test Method for Materials Flammability in Spacecraft (NASA Space Flight Program)

  • Work leading to the development of a new test method for the fire properties of materials used in aircraft and spacecraft
  • The test is based on the piloted ignition (hot spot or spark) of materials exposed to external heating

Ignition, Flame Spread and Extinction in Solid and Liquid Fuels (NIST/NSF)

  • Research on the initiation and spread of flames over solid and liquid fuels
  • Includes studies of fuel ignition, the subsequent spread of flames and steady burning, and flame extinction

Transport and Combustion of Embers and Metal Particles in Wild-land Fires (Various)

  • Objective is to model the trajectory of embers and burning metal particles generated in wildland fires to predict fire spotting
  • Results of the project could help predict wildland fire development to help fire fighters to direct fire efforts in wild-land fires
  • Results could also protect the life of firefighters that are often caught in the middle of two propagating fires due to fire spotting by flying embers

Liquid Fuel Spray Ignition (ARO/TACOM)

  • Studies of the mechanisms of ignition and burning of liquid fuel droplets and sprays under supercritical conditions for diesel engines applications.

Liquid Fuel Pool Fires and Boilover Burning of Fuels Spilled on Water (Various)

  • Collaboration with ENSMA, Poitiers, France to study the boilover burning of heavy hydrocarbon fuels (diesel oil, heating oil, etc.) spilled on water

PhD Dissertation and MS Thesis Advising

  • Chaired 29 PhD dissertations and 72 MS Theses in University California, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Publications (selected):  Available Upon Request

Honors, Scholarships, and Fellowships

  • ASME Fellow
  • Member of The Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain
  • Pi Tau Sigma Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • Fellowships from Fullbright Foundation, Juan March Foundation, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and MITI, Japan, the French and Italian CNR

Editorial Advisory Board

  • Combustion Science and Technology (1992-present)
  • Combustion Institute (2014-present)
  • Journal of Combustion (2010-2012 )
  • Progress in Energy and Combustion Science (1995-2006)
  • Combustion and Flame (1994-2001)


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