Neil James

Academic profile

Professor Neil James

Emeritus Professor
School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

The Global Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Neil's work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

Goal 09: SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and InfrastructureGoal 14: SDG 14 - Life Below WaterGoal 17: SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

About Neil

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 (6¬Ĺ years), Pro-Vice Chancellor (15 months) and Head of the School of Marine Science & Engineering/Associate Dean (6¬Ĺ 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.

Awards include the 2020 Robert Moskovic award from Technical Committee TC12 of the European Structural Integrity Society (one of 3 such awards in 2020) in ‚Äúrecognition of an outstanding contribution to Fatigue and Fracture of Structural Alloys and Materials‚ÄĚ; the Coffin-Manson medal in 2019 awarded by the Italian Fracture Group in ‚Äúrecognition of the research work done throughout his academic career to understand and model the fatigue behaviour of metallic materials and welded joints‚ÄĚ, and the Silver Medal of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering in 1986.

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.

From 1998 until 2020, I was Co-Editor (Europe, Middle East and Africa) of the International Journal of Fatigue (impact factor in 2019 of 4.369 and ranked 16/130 in Mechanical Engineering by Clarivate Analytics), am an Editorial Board member of Engineering Failure Analysis (Elsevier Science), and Frattura ed Integrità Strutturale - the International Journal of the Italian Fracture Group; have previously been on the Editorial Board of the ICE journal Forensic Engineering .

I have authored/co-authored more than 180 research publications in refereed International Journals and Conference Proceedings.¬†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 ‚ÄėReliable Products and Structures‚Äô.¬†¬†I am an Honorary Member of¬†the Gruppo Italiano Frattura (Italian Fracture Group) in recognition of ‚Äúoutstanding achievements in the research fields of Material Science, Fracture Mechanics and Structural Integrity‚ÄĚ.

I have significant experience of acting as a failure analysis and metallurgical consultant, generating some 180 reports over the last 40 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.

Supervised Research Degrees

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.


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

Materials engineering