Jeff D. Colwell, Ph.D., P.E. – Profile

Professional Profile

Dr. Jeff Colwell is a Principal Engineer at Colwell Consulting where he specializes in the engineering analysis of thermal and combustion processes, especially the cause, origin, and propagation of fires and explosions.  Dr. Colwell has investigated fires and explosions in a wide array of applications including motor vehicles, residential and commercial structures, wildfires, and industrial complexes associated with the chemical, drilling, refining, and mining industries.  Technical issues addressed have included cause and origin determination, burn pattern interpretation, evaluation of ignition mechanisms, smoldering and self-heating, fire spread, smoke transport, smoke detector operation, building evacuation, fire department response, carbon monoxide poisoning, and lithium-ion battery performance. He also evaluates the design and performance of household appliances, heating and cooling equipment, and various other consumer products.  Dr. Colwell’s research has focused on fire dynamics, burn patterns, and forced ignition mechanisms, including spark (electrostatic) and hot-surface ignition of combustibles, as well as ignition mechanisms associated with various types of electrical components.  He has also conducted research involving complex two-phase flows, liquid atomization, and droplet transport.

Prior to founding Colwell Consulting, Dr. Colwell was a Principal Engineer at Exponent where he worked for more than 18 years.  Dr. Colwell also held research positions at AlliedSignal Aerospace, the Combustion Laboratory at Arizona State University, the High Temperature Gas Dynamics Laboratory at Stanford University, and the Thermal Sciences and Propulsion Center at Purdue University.


Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Arizona State University

M.S., Engineering, Stanford University

M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Wyoming

Licenses & Certifications

Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer, Arizona, #31176

Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer, California, #M32037

National Counsel of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Council Record file No. 51102

Fire Cause and Origin Investigation 1A and Techniques of Fire Investigation 1B accredited by the California State Fire Marshal; Vehicle Fire Cause and Origin Investigation Course; Fundamentals of Automotive Fuel Delivery Systems Course, Society of Automotive Engineers, and Advanced Cognitive Interviewing and Forensic Statement Analysis, Behavior Analysis Training Institute.

Professional Honors

Committee Chairman and Session Organizer:  Fire Safety Sessions at SAE World Congress, Society of Automotive Engineers, 2008–2010.

Principal Member:  Technical Committee on Recreational Vehicles, NFPA 1192:  Standard on Recreational Vehicles, NFPA 1194:  Standard for Recreational Vehicle Parks and Campgrounds, National Fire Protection Association, 2006–2019.

Pi Tau Sigma; Mortar Board; Omicron Delta Kappa

SAE Excellence in Oral Presentation Award, 2009 and 2010

SAE Lloyd L. Withrow Distinguished Speaker Award, 2012

Outstanding Research Award, Union Carbide Corporation, 1994