Professor Neil James
Professor of Mechanical Engineering (Research)
Faculty of Science & Engineering
I have been Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Plymouth since 1996 and my research interests lie in design for structural integrity, covering the fields of fatigue and fracture, residual stresses, fatigue life prediction and welded joints. I have variously been Dean of Technology (6½ years), Pro-Vice Chancellor (15 months) and Head of the School of Marine Science & Engineering/Associate Dean (6½ years).
I was educated at Allan Wilson Technical High School, Harare, Zimbabwe. hold a BSc(eng) degree in Mechanical Engineering (Cum Laude 1976) from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; a PhD (1984) in Metallurgy and Materials Science from the University of Cambridge, England; a DTech (Honoris Causa - 2003) from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa, and a DSc(Eng) (2005) from University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
I have held, or hold, Visiting or Honorary Professorial appointments at Sheffield-Hallam University, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa and the University of Ferrara, Italy.
I am Co-Editor (Europe, Middle East and Africa) of the International Journal of Fatigue (ranked 14th in the world on impact factor in 2009 out of 125 mechanical engineering journals), am an Editorial Board member of Engineering Failure Analysis (Elsevier Science), The Open Mechanical Engineering Journal (Bentham Science Publishers), the ICE journal Forensic Engineering and Frattura ed Integrità Strutturale - the International Journal of the Italian Fracture Group.
I have authored/co-authored more than 160 research publications in refereed International Journals and Conference Proceedings, and have received several awards related to these publications, e.g. Silver Medal of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering (1986). I have given numerous invited Plenary or Keynote lectures at International Conferences. In 2008 I was invited to be the John Orr Memorial Lecturer for the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering. This prestigious lecture is intended to celebrate the achievements and contribution of Professor John Orr OBE, Hon. LLD (1870-1954) to engineering and engineering education in South Africa. My chosen topic was ‘Reliable Products and Structures’. I am an Honorary Member of the Gruppo Italiano Frattura (Italian Fracture Group) in recognition of “outstanding achievements in the research fields of Material Science, Fracture Mechanics and Structural Integrity”.
I have significant experience of acting as a failure analysis and metallurgical consultant, generating some 160 reports over the last 30 years. My work has ranged over advising on fatigue design, through determining mechanisms and causes of failure in mechanical equipment, plant and structures, to metallurgical assessment, corrosion problems, fatigue life and fracture toughness testing. I have acted variously as a fatigue and fracture expert, an Expert Witness in court cases, and a forensic engineering consultant to industry and legal firms in a number of countries, including the UK, USA, South Africa, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.
1973-1976 BSc(Eng) (4 year degree) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Graduated cum laude in mechanical engineering.
1980-1983 PhD in the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science, University of Cambridge, England. Thesis entitled The Growth of Small Surface Fatigue Cracks in Structural Steels (Supervisor Mr G C Smith and external examiner Dr C J Beevers, University of Birmingham).
2003 Doctor of Technology (Honoris Causa) degree conferred by the Port Elizabeth Technikon, South Africa, in recognition of standing in the field of mechanical properties of metals and development of mechanical engineering at the Technikon.
2005 DSc(Eng) conferred by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, for a thesis entitled A contribution to knowledge and understanding of fatigue crack growth phenomena representing a distinguished contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the subject.
2003 Honorary award of title of Visiting Professor to the Materials Research Institute at Sheffield-Hallam University for 6 years from June 2003.
2005 Appointed Advisory Professor of the Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, PR China in the State Key Laboratory of Traction Power.
2007 Appointed Honorary Professor of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa in the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering for 5 years from August 2007, re-appointed for a further 5 years in 2012.
2008 Appointed Professore di chiara fama and Docente at the Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy (founded 1391) in the Department of Engineering from January 2008.
Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, London
Registered as a Chartered Engineer with the Engineering Council, London.
Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Roles on external bodies
Member of Panel 30, Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise organised by the Higher Education Funding Council of England.
Member of the EPSRC Peer Review College; grant Reviewer for the National Science Foundation, USA, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Austrian Science Fund the National Research Foundation, South Africa, People's Republic of China, National Office for Science and Technology Awards, the Slovenian Research Agency, the Portuguese Foundation for Science & Technology; the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Centre of Science & Technology Evaluation, Kazakhstan .
Manager and PI of Phase 2 of the development and exploitation of FaME38, the Facility for Materials Engineering at the Institute Laue-Langevin (ILL) and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble, France, on behalf of a UK consortium of 12 University partners (2005). Funded by EPSRC grant EP/C008847/1, £467 460 for 12 months, with €200 000 of matching support from the ILL and ESRF. Previously invited to join the Management Committee (2002).
Holistic approaches to engineering design and design philosophy
Use of internet resources to promote student-centred learning, enhance access and support larger student groups
Development of high level on-line resources to support teaching, e.g. interactive tutorials and case studies
Fracture mechanics and fatigue
Staff serving as external examiners
I have acted as an External Examiner for some 40 MPhil and PhD degrees for UK and overseas universities since 2001.
Fatigue and fracture of structural alloys and materials
Residual stresses in components and structures
Fatigue design and life prediction
Friction stir welding - optimisation for dynamic performance
Research degrees awarded to supervised students
Recent research degrees candidates include:
P J McGrath, PhD An investigation of residual stresses induced by forming processes on the fatigue resistance of automotive wheels, 2001.
G R Bradley, PhD Fatigue Properties of Metal Inert Gas and Friction Stir Welded Aluminium Alloy 5383-H321, 2003.
H Lombard, PhD Optimized fatigue and fracture performance of friction stir welded aluminium plate: a study of inter-relationships between process parameters, TMAZ, microstructure, defect population and performance, 2007.
Yanwei Lu, PhD Full-field modelling of crack tip shielding phenomena, 2011.
Mark Newby, PhD Optimisation of shot peening for 12Cr steel in steam turbine blade applications, 2013 (ESKOM Research Programme).
A Mahmood, PhD Processing-performance relationships for fibre reinforced composites, 2015 (Iraqi Government Scholarship).
C A Yeo, MPhil The Development of a Methodology for a Dynamic Design Process, 2004.
Grants & contracts
I have held research and teaching grants from a number of external funding bodies, including major industry, the EPSRC and the UK Centre for Materials Education.
Key publications are highlightedJournals
Other academic activities
Editorial Advisory Board member of Frattura ed Integrità Strutturale - the International Journal of the Italian Fracture Group from August 2010.
Co-Editor (from January 2008), Regional Editor (Europe, Middle East & Africa) since 1999 of the respected Elsevier publication International Journal of Fatigue.
Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Elsevier journal Engineering Failure Analysis from 2004.
Member of Editorial Board of the Bentham Open Mechanical Engineering Journal from February 2007.
International Journal of Fatigue:
Engineering Failure Analysis: