Thomas Ackerson, P.E.

Laboratory Director

Tom holds a B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from North Carolina State University and an M.B.A. from Averett University. Tom has worked in the independent lab business since 1996 as both an Engineer and Manager. He has over twenty-five years of experience as a failure analyst, metallurgist and engineer.

Although he specialized in the study of microelectronic materials and wafer packaging, Tom was introduced to the field of metallurgy somewhat by default—the job market was tight upon his graduation from NC State in the midst of a recession. So at his first engagement right out of school, Tom learned the ropes of metallography while working at Babcock & Wilcox in Lynchburg, VA. He further honed his skills and broadened his experience as a metallurgical failure analyst during subsequent engagements in the commercial test lab industry.

Tom has won multiple international awards in metallography, and is a licensed professional engineer in AL, GA, NC and SC.  In 2013 he also reviewed and revised Chapter 2 on Mechanical Properties in the 3rd edition of Understanding How Components Fail, by Donald J. Volpi and published by ASM International.  This book is universally regarded as a standard reference text for failure analysts.

In his spare time, he enjoys traveling throughout the US, gardening/landscaping, playing acoustic guitar and watching football.


ASM International 
    ASM Failure Analysis Committee, 2003 - Present (2010/2011 Chair) 
    ASM Chapter Council, 1995 – 1998 and 2008 - Present (Currently Chair)   
    ASM Nominating Committee 2013 
    Chair, Birmingham Chapter, 2006 – 2009 
    Chair, Carolina Piedmont Triad Chapter, 2000 - 2001 
    Chair, Central Virginia Chapter, 1992-1993 
International Metallographic Society (IMS) 
Recurring membership in SAE, ASTM, NACE, AWS


BS Materials Science and Engineering
NC State University

Averett University

PE registration
AL, GA, NC and SC

Published Works:

  • A Novel Technique for Screening Aluminum Tubes for Superficial Copper Contamination, Materials Science & Technology, October 2014 (Author/Presenter)
  • Understanding Damage-Induced Rust Creep in the Automotive Industry through Metallography, Materials Science & Technology, October 2014 (Author/Presenter)
  • “Inadvertent Diffusion Bonding During Heat Treatment,” ASM Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention, January 2013 (Co-Author/Presenter)
  • Automotive Coatings and Corrosion Testing, SAE International Carolinas Section and ASM International Old South Chapter Joint Meeting, September 2009 (Author/Presenter)
  • Evaluation of Electrocoat Edge Corrosion Failures of Automotive Stampings and Correlation to Surface Geometry/Topography, MS&T 2007, September 2007 (Author/Presenter)
  • Characterization of Galvanneal Coating Powdering in Automotive Panels Due to an Undesirable Gamma/Delta/Zeta Phase Ratio, Materials Science & Technology, October 2006 (Author/Presenter)
  • Boiler Tube Joint Failure: A Lesson in Yield Strength Specifications, Materials Science & Technology, September 2005 (Author/Presenter)
  • “High Temperature Failure of a Lance Tube Nozzle from a Soot Blower,” ASM Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention, April 2005 (Author/Presenter)
  • Installation-Related Casting Failures, IMS Annual Meeting, August 2004 (Author/Presenter)
  • Failure Analysis of Welded Components, AWS/ASM Joint Meeting (Southwest VA Chapter), May 2004 (Author/Presenter)
  • Forensic Analysis of Residue on a Household Fork Via Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), ASM Materials Solutions 2003 (Author/Presenter)
  • Metallographic Examination of Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion in a Fire Truck Water Tank, International Metallographic Society Conference and Proceedings, 1999 (Author/Presenter)
  • Microprobe Analysis in Forensic Medicine, Biomedical Applications of Microprobe Analysis, Academic Press, 1999 (Co-Author)