Course(s):                              Mechanical Engineering (NQF Level 8)

Subject Name:                       Failure Analysis

Subject Code:                       ME424

Duration:                                13 teaching weeks, plus 1 examination week and 1 mid semester week

Contact Hours:                     6 hours per week (4 Lec. / 1 Tut /1 Lab)

Credit Points:                        20

Delivery Mode:                      On campus

Prerequisites:                      ME311 Mechanics of Machines, ME312 Machine Design, EN113 Engineering Materials and Properties

Co-requisites:                       Nil

Academic Staff:                    TBA


The objective of this subject is to equip the students with general procedures, techniques and precautions employed in the investigation and analysis of metallurgical failures that occur in service. The subject covers failure formation; damage mechanisms (fatigue, wear, corrosion, creep and other mechanical failures); procedural approaches in failure analysis; metallographic and fractographic techniques. The primary aim of this subject is to provide detailed information on the procedures and mechanisms involved in failure analysis.

Subject Topics:

  1. Introduction to failure analysis (Fundamentals of fracture – definitions, fracture modes)
  2. Techniques of failure analysis.
  3. Mechanical properties of materials
  4. Stress versus strength
  5. Brittle and ductile fracture
  6. Fatigue fracture
  7. Wear and corrosion
  8. Impact fracture testing, ductile-to-brittle transition (DBTT), metallurgical factors affecting the DBTT.
  9. Fractography

Subject Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

On completion of this subject students will be able to:

  1. Acquire knowledge on general procedures, techniques and precautions in failure analysis
  2. Analyse design related failures to explain the factors that cause failure with basic understanding of processing and material related failures
  3. Identify the environmental sources responsible for failures and determine ways to prevent them
  4. Discuss and explain how stress systems relate to fracture of ductile and brittle materials
  5. Investigate typical fatigue characteristics and the basic facture modes and their characteristics involved in examining a fracture.
  6. Working in teams to undertake laboratory exercises, analysing and discussing the outcomes and communicate those via professional reports

Assessment Tasks and Weightings

To obtain a pass grade in this Subject at least 50% overall must be achieved, and at least 40% achieved in the final examination. Students must also refer to the Subject Assessment Details.

Assessment 1 – Lab/Project Concept Report: A team based or individual component report outlining individual or team formation. Team based report outlining formation and member roles, project selection, team and member action plan and a schedule of future activities to achieve the outcome. The report contributes 20% towards the final grade for the subject.

Assessment 2 – Assignments: The assignments are intended to support students achieving the learning outcomes for the Subject and will contribute 20% towards the final grade for the subject.

Assessment 3 – Class Test: The Test contributes 20% towards the final grade for the subject and evaluates progress towards achievement of learning outcomes.

Assessment 4 – Final Examination (E): The individual components of final examination enable final evaluation of achievement of learning outcomes and contribute 40% towards the final grade for the subject

It is important that all students familiarize themselves with the University of Technology assessment guidelines including those on plagiarism. See the web site of the University of Technology at

Subject Mapping:

Subject Learning Outcomes (SLO) are mapped to each of the PNG National Qualifications Framework (NQF), Course Learning Outcomes (CLO), Unitech Graduate Attributes (GA), Assessment Tasks (AT) and Engineers Australia (EA) Stage 1 Competencies.

SLOSLO to NQFSLO to CLOSLO to GASLO to ATSLO to EA Stage 1 Competencies
1Applications, Knowledge and Skills3,4,5, 6, 71, 2, 4, 52,3,41.3, 2.4, 3.1, 3.2, 3.5,3.6
2Applications, Knowledge and Skills2, 4, 6, 752,3,41.3, 3.1, 2.3
3Applications, Knowledge and Skills2, 3, 72,5, 62,3,43.1, 3.6
4Applications, Knowledge and Skills4, 632,3,43.2, 3.6
5Applications, Knowledge and Skills3, 4, 562,3,43.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.6
6Applications, Knowledge and Skills3, 52, 3, 612.1, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.5, 3.6

Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competencies:

1.1 Comprehensive, theory-based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline.2.1 Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving.3.1 Ethical conduct and professional accountability.
1.2 Conceptual understanding of the mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the engineering discipline.2.2 Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.3.2 Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.
1.3 In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline.2.3 Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes.3.3 Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanour.
1.4 Discernment of knowledge development and research directions within the engineering discipline.2.4 Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of engineering projects.3.4 Professional use and management of information.
1.5 Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline. 3.5 Orderly management of self, and professional conduct.
1.6 Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of sustainable engineering practice in the specific discipline 3.6 Effective team membership and team leadership.

Graduate Statement:

The mechanical engineering graduate will have the skills and ability to systematically apply the engineering knowledge in an ethical and morally responsible manner in providing practical and sustainable solutions to engineering problems while upholding a level of sensitivity to social, cultural, legal and environmental issues in society.

Mechanical Engineering Course Learning Outcomes:

The following table is included to demonstrate to mechanical engineering students that their Course Learning Outcomes address all EA Stage 1 Competencies.

The mapping matrix for all subject learning outcomes within the Course, against EA Stage 1 Competencies, provides more detailed information. That matrix is provided separately to students.

Course Learning OutcomeEngineers Australia Stage 1 Competencies
1. Possession of a deep understanding of the sciences, math, information systems and engineering fundamentals that underpin the mechanical engineering discipline.1.1, 1.2
2. An in-depth understanding of the body of knowledge that forms the mechanical engineering discipline.1.2, 1.3
3. Collection, synthesis and application of information within the mechanical and related engineering disciplines.1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.3, 2.4, 3.4
4. Undertaking research, analysis & evaluation of ideas and concepts within mechanical engineering.1.3, 1.4, 1.6, 2.1, 2.3, 2.4, 3.2, 3.4
5. Applying problem solving skills to complex mechanical engineering systems and processes.1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3
6. Undertake mechanical engineering design and manage engineering projects.1.6, 2.2, 2.4, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6
7. Communication via multiple media to diverse audiences, undertaking team roles, teamwork and providing team leadership.2.4, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6
8. Behaving in an ethical and professional manner and respecting others.1.6, 2.4, 3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6
9. Being cognisant of the importance of sustainability and the environmental impact of engineering.1.5, 1.6, 3.1, 3.3, 3.4

Unitech Graduate Attributes:

AttributeAcademic dimensionPersonal DimensionTransferable Dimension
    Lifelong learnerSustained intellectual curiosity and use of feedback to reflect on their own work.Sets aspirational goals for personal improvement and career growth.Takes responsibility for one’s learning and development.
    Critical thinkerUses rules of inference to analyse complex issues and find solutions.Calmly uses logic and critical thinking, and not emotion, in all situations.Ability to find solutions to problems by using logical and imaginative thinking.
    Effective communicatorAbility to discuss and debate issues articulately and confidently and convincingly.Character of producing high quality written essays and oral presentations.Ability to communicate and negotiate with others and to listen to them.
    Cultural modernistFamiliarity with international standards and world cultures and human rights.Tolerance of the religions and cultures of others.Ability to work in a multicultural setting and comprehension and tolerance of religious and cultural differences.
    Moral uprightnessUnderstand and act upon the ethical responsibilities of their actions.Character of acting in a morally upright way in all situations.Professional behaviour at all times.
  Technologically savvyFamiliarity and use of technologies appropriately.Keeping up to date with innovations.Character of accepting new technology and quickly adapting to it.

Student Workload:

The total workload for the subject for the ‘average’ student is a nominal 150 hours, based on a 15 – week semester with 13 weeks of teaching as per the PNG National Qualification Framework.

Subject Text:

Required Texts: Donald J Wulpi, “Understanding How components fail”, American Society of Metals (ASM), Ohio, USA, 2000.


Essential References: Das, A. K., “Metallurgy of Failure Analysis”, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, USA, 1996


Recommended Books and Reference Material: Journals

YouTube Clips:

The following YouTube Clips should help augment the weekly lectures


Relevant Unitech Policies:

It is important that all students familiarise themselves with the PNGUOT Assessment Guidelines including those on plagiarism and other relevant policies. These policies are viewed by visiting the PNGUOT website: