In this article, we sit down with Costantinos (Costa) Franceskides, a Senior Forensic Consultant based in our London, UK team to talk about his foundations in Mechanical Engineering, and how they led to a career in Forensic Engineering.
In December 2021, Rimkus Consulting Group acquired CCi. Costa touches on his experiences joining the CCi UK team.
Can you please introduce yourself and give brief details about your professional background?
I am Costa, a Mechanical and Biomechanical Engineer. At CCi I am a Senior Forensic Consultant. I am originally from Cyprus, but now based in the UK.
When did you join CCi and why?
I joined Rimkus Consulting Group at the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020. Rimkus acquired CCi in December 2021. Due to the pandemic, it was a a different start for both the company and myself. As an engineer, particularly a mechanical engineer, you tend to work with almost all disciplines of engineering; fire, electrical, and civil to name a few.
The first few months at a new job are crucial as it helps forge a bond between the team. I was blessed to join a great team at Rimkus, who always ensured that new staff members feel part of the team and have the right support to succeed. Because of this, the leadership team at Rimkus and CCi are the reason I enjoy going to work everyday.
I have a theory that there is a tri-vector that defines the perfect job; Satisfaction, Salary, and Progression. Any combination of the 2 will result in a great job. I feel I have cracked the tri-vector and have all 3!
You are originally from Cyprus, but now based in the UK. What took you there?
I am based in the UK but my work also covers areas within the US and Canada. I first moved to the UK to study, and this is where I have remained ever since.
Having completed secondary education in an English School, I felt it a natural progression to go to a UK university.
Having spent 5 years in Liverpool, I had so much fun and created such wonderful friendships and memories that I felt this was my new home. Although I don’t reside in Liverpool anymore, I have a wonderful family and life in the South of England; a truly great place in the world.
What inspired you to do to undertake a PhD in Mechanical and Biomechanical Engineering?
My thesis involved the understanding of biomechanical simulants and analogues. During my studies I created a protocol that ensured patient specific, Biofidelic (in morphology and loading characteristics) analogues.
As Engineers, we design systems and then set them free. We do not tend to see failures unless something catastrophic happens. A PhD looking at the effects of mechanical induced loading to the body was very interesting to me. It was a very interesting way of looking at the real-life application/use of Aeronautical and Automotive assemblies and systems in the Defence sector.
Can you remember the point in your career when you decided to specialise in forensic investigation?
Yes, I knew I wanted to specialise in this field during my final year at The University of Liverpool, while undertaking my MEng degree.
We had a module exploring mechanical failures. The first disaster we looked at was the Piper Alpha explosion on 6th of July 1988, killing 165 of the men on board, and a further 2 rescue workers. Following this we looked at other failures, collapse of roadways and engineering structures; failures that I found again, very interesting.
Do you see your role as a Senior Forensic Consultant as one that could help stop such failures happening again?
I believe that anyone can change a process or a product. It all depends on the attitude and appetite of the product developer to take in any consumer feedback.
Of course, as a Forensic Engineer you have some weight (kudos) that can open doors, so to speak, when it comes to product or process failures. I have always had the opportunity at CCi to assist our clients, and even their clients to evolve their methods in order to have a more robust product/service.
How do you think your formal qualifications in Mechanical Engineering influence your thinking as a Forensic Engineer?
Undertaking formal qualifications in Mechanical Engineering has had a great influence on my thought processes and systems thinking as a Forensic Engineer.
As a Mechanical Engineer, you design something with the intent of serving its designated purpose without failure. As a Forensic Engineer, you see ‘the dark side of the moon’; engineering that specialises in failure.
Do you have plans to undertake any more professional development?
Professional development is a large part of why I chose to work in Forensic Consulting. No case is the same as the one before, nor the one after it, so you are always learning and adapting your working patterns.
What would you be interested in studying again?
I always want to expand my knowledge. In the future I would like to obtain my pilot license, as well as advanced motoring diploma.
What advice would you give to somebody just starting out as a Engineer who wants to specialise in forensic analysis? What should they consider?
My advice would be to take pride in their craft and have an eye for detail; these are key successes to becoming a forensic engineer.
The more you work in industry the more specialist you become, which can also be said of higher education. I see the best approach as a balanced one. Spending time in industry allows you to experience how an industrial engineer operates (drawing, manufacturing assembly etc), which is an invaluable skill to have when moving into the forensic world. Higher education will always support your real-life experience.
Is there anything in your career you would go back and change?
This is a tricky question! I had the opportunity in the latter part of my academic career to extend my studies at Heidelberg University in Germany. This would have added a year to my studies, but provided me with a combination degree of Business and Engineering.
At the time, I was eager to complete my studies and jump into the engineering work force. If I could turn back time, I would have taken that opportunity to study in Germany.
As a student you usually feel the need to finish everything and get a start in life, my advice is to take your time and enjoy where you are at that current moment.