Troubleshooting, Research, Failure Analysis, and Design for Fluid Systems:

Fluid Flow, Water Hammer, Structures, Piping, Pumps, Instrumentation, and Vibrations

Stop pipe system problems that include: water main breaks, fluid flow problems, pump and compressor failures, and pipeline explosions

Robert A. Leishear, Ph.D, P.E., PMP

Consulting Engineer, ASME Fellow

​NACE Senior Internal Corrosion Technologist

Click topics to view other pages.


See "Recent Accomplishments" and "Ongoing Projects" pages for documented successes.



Capability Statement

Robert A. Leishear, PhD., P.E., PMP


I troubleshoot technical problems and have solved long misunderstood engineering problems by inventing new theory as required. In short, diverse experience as a tradesman and engineer, along with 24 years of night school, were earned to design, build, and operate industrial systems, with a specialty in Fluid, Structural, and Machinery Dynamics. As a lead research, design, and test engineer on many projects, I applied inventive solutions to engineering problems, and saved Savannah River Site (SRS) well in excess of $78,000,000 over twenty four years. To document project successes, I wrote an ASME book along with forty seven Conference and Honors Journal papers, and also wrote articles in the Mensa World Journal and the ASME Magazine that were printed to 250,000 members in 158 countries. Research topics included: nuclear reactors; pump and piping design; fluid mechanics; mixing; fluid transients; non-Newtonian fluids; mass transfer; explosions; machinery and structural failure analysis; vibrations; vacuums; structural dynamics; and stress analysis. Skills include teaching experience, a sheet metal mechanic apprenticeship, welding and electrician training, a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Johns-Hopkins University, membership in ASME piping committees, attendance in ASME piping courses, completion of two years of Process Engineer training for nuclear facilities, and Masters and Doctorate degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Carolina (USC), which targeted industrial and nuclear processes. A second PhD for a Doctorate in Nuclear Engineering is in process. I also earned a dozen corporate awards, several ASME awards, and a Mensa Intellectual Creativity Award.



  • Consulting Engineer.
  • ASME Fellow.
  • Four years of volunteer research were performed to investigate the following issues.
  • Invented a new theory: Water main corrosion and water hammer evaluations were performed to explain water main beaks. Nearly all of the 250,000 US water main breaks can be prevented at an estimated cost of one trillion dollars over the next 25 years. In short, cathodic protection prevents corrosion, but water hammer starts water main corrosion, i.e., cathodic protection fixes the symptoms, not the problem.
  • Invented a new theory: A nuclear power plant explosion common-cause was determined for Three Mile Island, Fukushima.
  • Invented a new theory: Seventy years of smaller explosions in US plants and abroad have been misdiagnosed as water hammer (gas accumulation events), and these explosions can be stopped to prevent damages to nuclear power plants.
  • Invented a new theory: A safety analysis and a supporting statistical analysis were performed for nuclear power plant explosions to prove that the next nuclear power plant accident will occur before 2039 with a one in two probability of a Fukushima type explosion. This explosion can be prevented to prevent loss of life and property and environmental damage due to radioactive fallout.
  • Invented a new theory: The majority of gas pipeline explosions can be stopped to prevent loss of life, where 10-12 people are killed in the US every year. Fluid transients have been shown to be the primary cause of pipeline breaks.
  • Invented a new theory: Fatigue failures were determined to be caused by grit blasting, and this discovery proves that bridge designs, piping designs, rotating machinery designs, etc. are presently unsafe. National and international codes can be changed to prevent loss of life and property, since all codes are in error, which use fatigue curves for cyclically loaded structures that are grit blasted to better adhere coatings for corrosion control.

   Process Piping Engineer, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS):

  • Savannah River Site Expert for ASME B31.3 piping designs.
  • Savannah River Site Expert for pump designs and applications.
  • Troubleshooting of piping and fluids systems for a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility.
    •  Solved legacy, 60 year old, fluid flow problems in cooling water systems and process piping systems.
    • ​Solved legacy pipe system corrosion and coating problems.

   Calibrations Engineer / Quality Assurance Engineer, Savannah River National Laboratory (Metrology):

  • Technical oversight for the Savannah River Standards Laboratory for pressure and vacuum instrumentation calibrations.
    • SRNL Award for redesign of a Vacuum System.
    • New discoveries in vacuum system technology.

   Research Engineer, Savannah River National Laboratory: Fluids and Pilot Scale Testing Laboratory:

  • Published a new theory to explain fires and explosions in nuclear reactor and off-shore oil pipelines, where examples are Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fukushima Daiichi, and the Gulf Oil Spill
  • Pilot scale testing for mixing of nuclear waste in million gallon storage tanks, robotic sampling of storage tanks, and mass transfer modeling of hydrogen release in nuclear waste (Lead research engineer).
    • 3.5 million dollar cost savings from experimental mixing research for million gallon tanks (Lead research engineer).
    • Forty million dollar cost savings from robotic arm, or wall drilling sampler design, for million gallon nuclear waste tanks (Lead research and design engineer).
    • Mass transfer experiments in a 30 foot tall bubble column to investigate two phase flow of flammable gases in radioactive liquids for the Hanford, Nuclear Facility Safety Analysis (Lead research engineer).
    • Conducted full-scale grout mixing tests (Lead design and test engineer).
    • Developed a separations process for radioactive materials (Reillex), using a sixty foot tall column and associated equipment.
    • Evaluated piping systems for corrosion damages and corrective actions.

   Radioactive Packaging Engineer, Savannah River National Laboratory:

  • Safety Analysis for packaging required to transport radioactive materials over roads and railways.

SAVANNAH RIVER REMEDIATION, LLC, Savannah River Site, S.C., 1991 – 2007 (1 SRS President’s Award, and 10 SRS Vice President’s Awards)
    Shift Technical Engineer / Process Engineer:

  • Responsible for engineering oversight of radioactive liquid waste facility operations and Safety Analysis.

   Design Engineer / Plant Engineer / Pump Engineer / Systems Engineer / Test Engineer:

  • Troubleshooting of pipe system and pressure vessel failures, fluid flow problems, machinery failures, and pump failures (Lead systems engineer, Vibration analyst).
    • Test and Design Engineer for 25 through 150 horsepower transfer and mixing pumps, which were used in processing for one million gallon, nuclear waste storage tanks (Lead test engineer).
    • 27 million dollar cost savings for redesigning 150 horsepower mixing pumps to correct resonance induced failures, documented through a Six Sigma project (Lead project engineer).
    • Troubleshot and corrected fluid flow anomalies and shutdowns on multiple, different systems (Lead engineer).
    • Corrected a pump resonance problem that destroyed mechanical seals on a 90 day cycle: 1.5 million dollar coat savings (Sole engineer).
    • ​Applied radiography to visualize cavitation damage in piping systems (Lead engineer).
  • Invented and applied a new dynamic stress theory during Master's and PhD research (Sole author).
    • Used this new dynamic stress theory for a 15 million dollar cost savings to stop hundreds of pipe failures, which occurred over forty years at Savannah River Site (Lead engineer).
    • Used this new dynamic stress theory to publish a technical basis to explain the explosion of a steam valve, which resulted in the death of an operator at a Hanford nuclear facility in 1993 (Sole author). 
    • Used this new dynamic stress theory to stop crack growth in a glass melter assembly and prevent an unplanned shut-down of the Defense Waste Processing Facility, which is used for radioactive waste processing and disposition at Savannah River Site (Lead engineering analyst).
    • Used this theory to prevent over-pressure shutdowns of a grout processing system used for disposition of nuclear waste (Lead Engineer).
  • Engineering design of piping systems and facility modifications. (Lead design engineer).
    • Designed an emergency pumping station to control radioactive liquid leaks to the environment (Lead engineer).
    • Compressor Systems and Controls: 1 million dollar cost savings for compressor system control and vibration re-design (Lead engineer).
    • Procedure writing; Specification writing; and Contract writing.
    • Technical oversight of Maintenance and Operation departments.
  • Vibration Analyst for rotating and reciprocating vibrations for compressors, piping, pumps, fans, and structures.

Westinghouse Defense and Electronics Systems Center, Md., 1982–1991 (Westinghouse President’s Award)
   Design Engineer:

  • Design of electronic assemblies, castings, and machined parts for aircraft radar systems.
    • Fatigue testing of electronic components.
    • Technical oversight and design for  drafting, casting, and machine shop contractors.
    • Patented and designed a coating process for electrical connectors required for  nuclear hardening on military aircraft radar for nuclear war second strike capabilities. This design has since been used on all manufactured personal computers and printers for twenty-five years to reduce electrical noise coupling. (Inventor, Lead electrical and mechanical engineer).
    • ​Designed electronic packaging, machined and cast parts, and printed circuit designs for military aircraft radar systems. 
    • Served as a lead electrical and mechanical engineer for military radar systems.
    • Designed electrical system coatings and plating for corrosion and thermal control.


  • PhD (2005), MS (2001), Mechanical Engineering, University of South Carolina: Fluids, Structural Mechanics and Dynamics:
    • Viscous and Turbulent Flow; ; Diffusion and Mass Transfer; Gas Dynamics; and Fluid Transients.
    • Fatigue; Fracture Mechanics; Structural Failure Analysis and Design; Finite Element Analysis; and Metallurgy / Materials Science.
    •  Building and Structural Dynamics / Seismic Design; Machinery Dynamics and Vibrations; Acoustics; and Stress Waves in Solids.
    • Combustion and Explosion Dynamics.
    • Control Theory; HVAC Design; and Advanced Thermodynamics. 
  • PhD (in-process), Nuclear Engineering, University of South Carolina: 
    • Introduction to Nuclear Engineering
    • Principles of Nuclear Engineering and Nuclear Reactor Core Analysis.
    • Nuclear Materials and Metallurgy.
    • Nuclear Reactor Systems and Designs.
    • Nuclear Fuel Cycles.
    • Radiation Shielding.
    • Thermal Hydraulics of Nuclear Reactors.
    • Nuclear Safeguards and Security.
    • ​Risk Analysis and Nuclear Reactor Safety / Probabilistic Risk Assessment 
    • ASME Thermal Hydraulics Course.
  • ​​International Radiological Protection School, Stockholm, Sweden, Nuclear Energy Agency.
    • Radiological detriment, dose, and other fundamentals. 
    • Radiological protection, international guidance, ethics and public communication.
    • Radiological aspects of biological, epidemiological and social science.
  • Combustion and Fluids Studies to Support PhD Research
    • Princeton University: Combustion Physics, Combustion Kinetics,  Combustion Chemistry, Unsteady Combustion, Advanced Propulsion, Flame Aerodynamics, Laser Diagnostics for Combustion, Numerical Combustion Methods, and Combustion Dynamics.
    • Nuclear Energy Agency: International Nuclear Law Essentials, Singapore: Commercial nuclear reactor treaties, licensing, regulation, construction, financing, safety, liability, insurance, safeguards, security, trafficking, terrorism, transportation, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima.
    • AFT Impulse Water Hammer Course.
  • Corrosion, National Association of Corrosion Engineers
    •  Internal corrosion technologist (NACE Certified), Advanced internal corrosion, Protective coating specialist, Cathodic protection tester (NACE Certified), Cathodic protection technologist, Cathodic protection specialist, and Designing for corrosion.
  • Project Management Professional, Training (PMP), University of South Carolina.
    • ​SCORE courses on small business management, insurance, and law.
    • PMI courses on project management, negotiations, contracts, and mediation.
  • BS, Mechanical Engineering (1982), Johns Hopkins University:
    • Fluid Mechanics; Thermodynamics; Physics; and Heat Transfer.
    • Theory of Structures; Machinery Design; Materials Science; Statics; Dynamics; and Electrical Machinery.
    • Integral Calculus; Differential Equations; Vector Analysis; Numerical Analysis; Statistics; and Advanced Mathematics.
    • Electric circuits; and Electromagnetism.
    • Fortran Computer Programming; Computer Graphics; and Assembly Language Programming. 
    • Chemistry; Organic Chemistry; Biology; and Genetics. 
    • Drafting.
    • Logic and Philosophy.
    • Engineering Economics.
    • Technical Writing; English Literature; and Shakespeare.
    • Political Science (Constitutional Law); State and Local Governments (State Law).
    • ​​Fundamentals of Engineering Law (Business Law).
  • Process Engineer Training (Shift Technical Engineer and Process Engineer): (1-1/2 years, full time):
    • Oral Board and Qualification Card completed to Department of Energy requirements.
    • Over 100 facility training courses completed for operations, engineering design, and safety of nuclear facilities.
    • Steam systems; compressed air systems; pressure vessel inspector; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems; cooling water systems; storm water systems; control room operations; distributed control systems; and process system control.
    • Electrical power distribution systems, transformers, motor control centers, variable frequency drives; battery banks; and switch gear. 
    • Instrumentation: pressure gauges; vacuum gauges; flow gauges; and temperature instrumentation.  
    • Heat exchangers; evaporators; fans; cooling towers; compressors; steam traps; pressure regulators; diesel generators; and pumps. 
    • Chemical and nuclear processes; radiochemistry; radiation effects and calculations; plutonium metallurgy; corrosion; heat transfer; thermodynamics; chemistry; materials science; piping systems; valves; flow control; liquid level control; radiation detection; and chemical separations processes. 
    • Emergency response; Emergency Operations Center volunteer; industrial hazards analysis; first aid; risk analysis; hazards analysis; human performance improvement; and nuclear safety analysis.
    • ​Facility processes required to operate SRS, H-Canyon nuclear fuel reprocessing and SRS, H-Tank Farm nuclear waste processing: Radioactive sludge and salt processing; Radioactive waste mixing; Newtonian vs.Non-Newtonian fluid processes; Radioactive releases and prevention; Radiolytic hydrogen generation and explosion hazards;  Nitric acid reactions; Uranium and plutonium separation processes;  and red oil explosions.
  • Qualified Electrician/ Electronics and Instrumentation Training: Classes for electricians (9 weeks, full time): 
    • Completed Qualification Card  requirements per DOE requirements.
    • Digital electronics, electric circuits, and electronic controls.
    • Programmable logic controllers.
    • Variable frequency drives and motors.
    • National Electrical Code.
    • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning repair and license.
  • ASME Piping and Pressure Vessels Classes: Design, manufacture, installation, and inspection: 
    • Finite Element Analysis for Fluid Mechanics
    • Nuclear Reactor Thermal Hydraulics.
    • ASME B31.1, Power Piping materials, construction, fabrication, and examination.
    • ASME, B31.3, Process Piping design, construction, testing, and examination.
    • ASME, Section VIII, Pressure Vessel Code design, construction, testing, and examination.
    • ASME, Section III, Pressure Vessel Design by Analysis
    • High pressure piping design.
    • ​High temperature piping design.
    • Flexibility analysis for piping systems.
    • Fluid - structure interaction.
    • Failure analysis of piping systems.
    • Nondestructive examination techniques.
    • Earthquake (seismic) design for piping.
    • Piping dynamics.
    • ​Fitness for service and fracture mechanics evaluations for piping.
    • Heat exchanger design.
    • National Board Inspection Code for pressure vessels.
  • AWWA Training
    • AWWA Public Officials Certificate
    • Aging Infrastructure Management
  • Calibrations Training: 
    • Metrology Engineer Qualification Card completed and accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Board (NVLAP).
    • Vacuum instrumentation; pressure instrumentation; mass calibrations; dimensional calibrations; and electrical equipment calibrations.
    • Uncertainty analysis.
    • ISO metrology standards.
    • Quality assurance engineering and ASME, NQA-1 implementation.
    • Vacuum and pressure system: design and leak testing.
  • Mixing training:
    • Classes on mixing technology.
  • Pump and Turbine Design Training:  
    • Pump operations, design, and applications.
    • Vibration analysis.
    • Rotor dynamics.
    • Mechanical seal design.
    • Steam turbine design.
    • Gas turbine design.
    • ​Medium Voltage motor operations.
  • Computer Programs, Training, and Applications:
    • ​Reactor Physics, Fuel Depletion, Shielding, Cross Sections, and Uncertainty Analysis software - PARCS, ORIGEN, POLARIS, KENO, TRITON, TSUNAMI, and MAVRIK, U. of Illinois, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, Paris.  
    • RELAP5 and TRACE Thermal hydraulics software for nuclear reactor design and coupling to PARCS, U. of Barcelona and U.S. NRC.
    • MATLAB software for programming
    • ​FLUENT for Fluid Mechanics, Combustion, and Heat Transfer, Fluent Fundamentals, Multi-phase Flow, Turbulence, Dynamic Meshing, User Defined Functions, APDL and MAPDL programming, Rotor Dynamics, Fatigue, and Fluid Structure Interactions.
    • ANSYS Structural - Fundamentals, Explicit Dynamics, Material Nonlinearties, Structural Nonlinearilties, Heat Transfer, Linear and Nonlinear Dynamics, Advanced Connections, Fluid Structure Interaction, Autodyn.
    • Abaqus®, Autopipe®, Nastran®: structural analysis codes. 
    • Labview®, Process Instrumentation (PI)®: process control codes. 
    • Water hammer: fluids dynamics codes.
    • Mathcad®, Matlab®, Fortran®, Excel®, and Maple®: mathematics and computer codes.
    • AutoCad®: mechanical drawing code. 
  • International Codes and Standards Applications and Practice:
    • Hydraulic Institute Standards.
    • ISO, and NIST.
    • National Electrical Code.
    • NQA-1. 
    • DOD, DOE, DOT, NFPA, CFR, OSHA, Military Standards.
  • Sheet Metal Apprenticeship (4 yr.):
    • Indenture papers earned.
    • Drafting.
    • Sheet metal pattern layouts. 
    • Sheet metal shop fabrication. 
  • Welding and Steel Fabrication School (6 mo. full time):
    • Welding.
    • Acetylene cutting of steel.
    • Rigging.
    • Large scale structural steel construction and fabrication methods.


  • Journeyman Sheet Metal Mechanic: 
    • Installation of industrial and commercial sheet metal structures, walls, filters, heat exchangers, and HVAC equipment.
    • Installed 10 foot diameter fans and duct work in buildings and subways.
    • ​Foreman over construction crews on skyscrapers and industrial plants.
    • Welder.
  • Carpenter: 
    • Superintendent over carpenter crews.
    • Built apartment developments and homes. 
    • ​Concrete form carpenter.
  • Iron Worker: Steel frame construction of buildings. 
  • Welder, Structural Steel Shop Fabrication, and Construction (Fitter);
    • Constructed major sections of the last using cranes and hundred ton jacks for building the last 1100 foot long, super tanker built in the U. S at Sparrows Point Shipyard.
    • Shop layout and forming of steel plates, cones, cylinders, beams, etc., using brakes and rollers.
  • Steeplejack: Maintenance, painting, and equipment installation on 500 foot tall radio towers.
  • Plastics and Concrete Worker and Finisher: Installation of concrete, fiberglass, and epoxies for industries, pipelines, and tunnels.
  • Plumber: Worked on residential plumbing installations.


  •    Savannah River Site Teacher: (Taught classes to hundreds of engineers, operators, mechanics, and managers):
    • “Vibration Analysis of Rotating Equipment”;
    • “Pump Technology for Nuclear Waste Processing”;
    • ”Water Hammer, Piping Design, and Fluid Mechanics”.
  •    ASME Teacher:
    • Five day ASME and Navy classes for “Piping Design, Fluid Mechanics, and Fluid Transients”.
  •    Energy Facility Contractors Group Teacher (EFCOG):
    • Safety Analysis class on Fluid Transients in DOE facilities.



  • ASME Book and Supplement:
    • "Fluid Mechanics, Water Hammer, Structural Dynamics, and Piping Design" A 559 page text which provides the fundamentals needed to safely design and troubleshoot piping systems (Sole author).
  • ASME, Mechanical Engineering Magazine,
    • “CFD and Safety Factors”, Publication which documented a breakthrough in the application of computer modeling to experimental fluid mechanics (Lead researcher).
    • Article on the cause of the hydrogen fire during “The Spark That Ignited Three Mile Island” (Sole author).
  • ASME, AIChE, Mensa, Pump Users Symposium, and Waste Management SymposiumConference and Journal Publications (Lead or sole author):
    • Mixing and mass transfer.  
    • Pumps and fluid mechanics.
    • Machinery, failure analysis, and stress analysis.
    • Vibrations and shock waves.
    • Water hammer.
    • Nuclear power plant explosions.
    •  Gas pipeline explosions.
    • Water main breaks.
    • Nuclear reactor safety and legal requirements.
  • PhD Dissertation and Master’s Thesis on the invention of a new theory called the Dynamic Stress Theory, which documented the response of buildings and pipe systems to explosions or fluid transients.

PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES: (4 ASME Awards for Service, ASME Fellow, Mensa Award)

  • ASME Fellowshipfor outstanding engineering achievements.  
  • ASME Piping Committee Membership:
    • Member of the ASME B31 Piping Mechanical Design Committee, B31.3 Process Piping Sub-group on Design, B31.3 Process Piping Committee, and Section VIII, High Pressure and Impulsively Loaded Vessel Committees.
    • Project manager for an international Water Hammer Piping Standard (ASME B31D, “Design of Piping Systems for Dynamic Loads from Fluid Transients”).
  •    ASME Conference Session and Professional Development Chairman (past):
    • Member of the Pressure Vessel and Piping Design and Analysis Conference Committee.
    • Chaired and developed numerous sessions at various ASME Pressure Vessel, Piping, and Dynamics Conferences. 
    • Taught a Fluid Transient class at the ASME Pressure Vessel and Piping Conference.
    • Peer reviewer of numerous papers published for several ASME journals and conferences: Journal of Pressure Vessel Technology, the Journal of Fluids Engineering, the Journal of Solid Mechanics, the  Pressure Vessel and Piping Conference, and the International Mechanical Engineers Conference and Exposition.
    • Attended hundreds of technical conference presentations at 40+ engineering conferences.
  • MENSA:
    • Genius IQ.
    • Mensa, Copper Black, Creative Intelligence Award. 
    • Mensa World Journal: Published an article to explain fires and explosions at nuclear reactors and offshore oil rigs, “Explosions: A Fresh Look at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, the Gulf Oil Spill, and Fukushima Daiichi”.
    • ​Member.
  •   Combustion Institute
    • Member