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

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


Capability Statement


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


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

Consulting Engineer, ASME Fellow

​NACE Senior Internal Corrosion Technologist

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

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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.

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

  •  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

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

  • Technical oversight for the Savannah River Standards Laboratory for pressure and vacuum instrumentation.
    • 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.

   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 re-design (Lead engineer).

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.
    • Technical oversight of drafting and machine shop contractors.
    • Patented a process for electrical connectors required for  nuclear hardening on military aircraft radar, which has been used on all manufactured personal computers and printers for twenty-five years to reduce electrical noise coupling. (Inventor, Lead electrical engineer).
    • ​Electronic packaging and printed circuit designs. 


  • 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: 
    • 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; and process system control.
    • Electrical power distribution systems, transformers, motor control centers, 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; piping systems; valves; flow control; liquid level control; radiation detection; and chemical separations processes. 
    • Emergency response; industrial hazards analysis; first aid; risk 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.
  • 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 and HVAC equipment.
    • ​Foreman over construction crews on skyscrapers and industrial plants.
  • Carpenter: 
    • Superintendent over carpenter crews.
    • Built apartment developments. 
  • Iron Worker: Steel frame construction of buildings. 
  • Welder, Structural Steel Shop Fabrication, and Construction (Fitter);
    • Constructed major sections of 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.. 
  • Steeplejack: Maintenance and equipment installation on 500 foot tall radio towers.
  • Plastics and Concrete Worker and Finisher: Installation of concrete, fiberglass, and epoxies for industries, bridges, and tunnels.


  •    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.
    • Explosions.
  • 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