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Dr. Luis R. Carney, P.E., President and Technical Leader
Jacksonville, Florida  
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Factors to Consider When Hiring a Metallurgist or Engineering Consultant

Dr. Luis R. Carney, 04/27/2019.

Hiring a metallurgist or similar engineering consultant to work on your techical issues or legal case is an activity often surrounded by worry and anxiety.  These notions are normal.  It is often the case that the client is unfamiliar with the field in which he needs help and does not have a mastery of the proper jargon to explain what he needs.  Dot not be overly concerned.  Any engineering firm that dedicates itself to helping the public such as Southeastern Metallurgy understands this and will do all it can to guide you through the process in simple terms.  We are not experts at everything and feel the same way when we reach into unfamiliar territory (law, taxes, medicine, raising teenagers, etc...).  

The list below provides some guidelines to consider prior to hiring a consultant or firm to serve as technical advisors.

1. The primary point of contact at the firm should be friendly, attentive and professional at all times.  There should always be a genuine effort to understand your issue thoroughly before accepting the assignment. If the firm appears dismissive, over simplifies the issue or does not seek to look over the information you have prior to retaining them, it is unlikely to be a sucessful engagement.

2. The consultant or firm should have extensive and relevant experience with the issue(s) at hand. Whenever possible try to be specific in what you seek and ensure that the potential hire understands the requirements.

3. The consultant should have a minimum of an engineering degree from an ABET accredited engineering school. Advanced degrees and a professional engineering license (P.E.) are highly encouraged. For many types of engineering work (e.g. Civil Engineering Building Stress Analysis) a P.E. is required by the State.

4. A P.E. license should be current. The status can be checked in the web site of the Department of Professional Regulation in most States.  Professional Engineers are assigned a number which can be entered into State data base for confirmation of an active status and no outstanding disciplinary actions.  

5. Technical work is rarely accomplished by a single person. The consultant should make himself responsible for the work product of any of his assistants.

6. The advisor should be easy to get along with and willing to discuss or elaborate on any points you are unfamiliar with at any time.  

7. The advisor should have ready access to and familiarity with any equipment or software he will be using. If you have specific requirements for the format of any work product, inform the consultant prior to engagement.

8. Ask for a current fee schedule that outlines typical costs of all anticipated events including base rate, travel, overnight stays, technician fees and any other costs you believe to be relevant.  It is advisable to present the consultant with a budget or limit and ask whether it is reasonable for the work desired.

9. It is acceptable to ask for an approximate cost of any service you desire. Be aware that these will be subject to change as the requirements change.  Vague answers from a firm are a warning sign.

10. Most engineering firms will provide one or more hours of consultation time free of charge. Take advantage of these offers to interview potential hires and gain a better understanding of the challenges involved in resolving your issue(s).

11. Once you have found a consultant you think you can work with, reduce as many of your understadings as possible to a signed contract.  You are the boss. Insist on cost limits or time deadlines where they make sense.

Southeastern Metallurgy is proud to operate its business following the guidelines presented above.  We would be pleased to be considered as one of the firms you investigate for metallurgical, materials and mechanical engineering work.


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