Director of Engineering & Research
Forensic Engineering Investigator, Mechanical/Materials
Matthew Wagenhofer is a licensed Professional Engineer and holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on the engineering performance of materials. Dr. Wagenhofer has over 20 years of forensic engineering experience encompassing a broad range of topics under the umbrella of mechanical engineering and materials performance accidents and failures. His investigations include challenging problems in such areas as:
aviation; construction; electric power generation and distribution; electric energy storage; fuel gas storage and distribution; industrial/manufacturing processes and equipment operation; maritime transportation and marine recreation; medical device design and operation; metal alloys fabrication and processing; and the design and operation of all manner of products used in commercial and consumer applications.
Dr. Wagenhofer has experience investigating the role that materials and mechanical components play in such multidisciplinary events as fires, explosions, transportation accidents, business interruption, and personal injury and loss of life incidents. He conducts, and manages, analyses of:
aircraft accidents; construction defect assessments; UAS (drone) operational risk assessments for FAA Part 107 waiver applications; electric power distribution equipment failures, fires, and explosions; lithium battery fires; pressure vessel explosions of aerosol paint cans and SCUBA equipment; maritime allisions; nuclear and fossil-fired electric power plant equipment failures; and fires and explosions involving propane and natural gas distribution systems, among others.
His investigation experience also includes:
adhesives, air scrubbers, aircraft structural components, aircraft sensors and electromechanical components, automobile components, bicycles, boilers, boiler piping and tubing, ceramics and glasses, commercial and residential pressure pipe failures, continuous casting equipment, cranes and booms, electromechanical relays, electronic engine controls failures, exercise equipment, gasoline and diesel engines, HVAC systems, impact damage assessment, induction furnaces, lifting equipment, mechanical fasteners, metals and welds, oil and gas pipelines, paints and coatings, patent infringement, polymers, pressure fryers, product designs and defects versus misuse, steam generators, thermal analysis of electronics and fire scenes, and vehicle lifts.
• Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, December 2002
• M.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, August 1999
• B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, May 1996
• Director of Engineering and Research/ Forensic Engineering Investigator, Mechanical/Materials RTI Group, LLC Stevensville, MD January 2015 – Present
• Director of Mechanical Engineering / Mechanical and Materials Failure Analyst RTI Group, LLC Annapolis, MD and Stevensville, MD September 2011 – January 2015
• Mechanical / Materials Failure Analyst and Industrial / Utility Accident Reconstructionist RTI Group, LLC Annapolis, MD September 2008 – September 2011
• Independent Mechanical/Materials Failure Consultant – Investigations included, but were not limited to, marine outdrive bolt failure, natural gas piping failure, automobile trailer hitch failure, residential plumbing failures (copper piping and valves), and residential HVAC failures. March 2005 – September 2008
• Independent Researcher – Efforts focused on developing grant proposals to fund research on the use of dislocation mechanics and dynamics to improve the mesoscale characterization of polycrystalline material behavior for multiscale, physically-based fracture models. This included both heterogeneous plasticity characterization as well as its influence on the initiation and propagation of cleavage fracture. September 2006 – September 2008
• Senior Scientist, Phoenix Engineering Associates, Inc. – Research focused on the development of a physically-based mesoscale computational model of the transition region fracture behavior of ferritic steels. Within the framework of cracked infinite body geometry, dislocation mechanics techniques were used as a basis for quantifying mesoscale phenomena and generating stress and strain fields while local macroscale failure criteria combined with equilibrium analyses were used to compute fracture loads. October 2002 – August 2006
• Lecturer, University of Maryland –ENES 100 Introduction to Engineering Design. Taught engineering students the principles of product design and guided them through the process in small teams to create a product prototype. Course was required for all engineering students at the University of Maryland. Fall Semester 2005
• Engineering Consultant, Structural Integrity Associates – Engineer responsible for supporting existing projects and managing new projects related to core business of non-destructive evaluation and failure investigation of steel componentry used by the energy industry, especially power plant welds and piping. Responsible for analyzing existing technologies and developing new technologies to expand core services. Participated in field work at power plants and pipe lines in Maryland, North Carolina, and Utah. May 2004 – March 2005
• Project Engineer, Mechanical, SEA Limited – Mechanical Engineer specializing in the deformation and fracture analysis of objects made of metals and polymers. Representative investigations included: continuous caster bearing failures; patent validity and infringement issues; plastic component failures; submarine propeller bolt failure; logging truck boom failure; corrosion failure of circuit breakers; and automotive engine failures. October 2002 – January 2004
• Graduate Research Assistant, University of Maryland – Doctoral research involved the development of a physically-based, quantitative characterization of the fracture toughness temperature dependence of ferritic steels as exhibited in the empirically based statistical method described in ASTM E1921. Investigated structure-property relationships for typical transition region temperatures and a full range of loading rates. Performed modeling on the microscale at the lower size limits of continuum plasticity and utilized a dislocation-based approach for explaining the temperature dependence. January 1999 – October 2002
• Master’s Thesis Research, University of Maryland – Involved the investigation of temperature and rate dependent structure-property relationships in aluminum-magnesium alloys and the influence of various material behavior phenomena on the applicability of constitutive relationships for these materials. September 1996 – December 1998
• Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Maryland – Taught weekly discussion and laboratory classes for the following undergraduate engineering courses: Statics, Engineering Materials and Manufacturing Processes. August 1996 - December 1998, September 2001 – May 2002
• Undergraduate Research Assistant, University of Maryland – Investigated cause of failed Ni-Cu alloy K500, low-temperature, stress-rupture specimens. Methods included analysis of mechanical test data, preparation of metallographic specimens, and completion of optical and electron microscopy (SEM, ESEM). May 1995 – August 1996
• Licensed Professional Engineer – Mechanical: Machine Design and Materials
o District of Columbia License No. PE920286
• EPA Section 608 Type I certified to practice Refrigerant Recycling, Recovery, and Reclamation
• Engineer-in-Training, State of Maryland, Certification #40525
Professional Associations and Activities
• American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
o Member, Committee E08 on Fatigue and Fracture
o Member, Committee E28 on Mechanical Testing
o Member, Committee E30 on Forensic Sciences
o Member, Committee E58 on Forensic Engineering
o Member, Committee F38 on Unmanned Aircraft Systems
• National Association of Fire Investigators, Member
• National Society of Professional Engineers, Member
• Natural Gas Claims and Litigation Association, Special Member
• Transportation Research Board, Individual Affiliate
Professional Development Courses
• Introduction to Evidence, Presented by: International Association of Arson Investigators, Inc and CFITrainer.net, Tested on: July 29, 2017.
• The Scientific Method for Fire and Explosion Investigation, Presented by: International Association of Arson Investigators, Inc and CFITrainer.net, Tested on: July 19, 2017.
• Residential Natural Gas Systems, Presented by: International Association of Arson Investigators, Inc and CFITrainer.net, Tested on: August 19, 2017.
• Investigating Natural Gas Systems, Presented by: International Association of Arson Investigators, Inc and CFITrainer.net, Tested on: August 19, 2017.
• Explosion Dynamics, Presented by: International Association of Arson Investigators, Inc and CFITrainer.net, Tested on: August 20, 2017.