Exponent (consulting firm)

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Failure Analysis Associates
S&P 600 Component
Industry research
Founded April 1967 in Palo Alto, California, United States
Founders Alan Stephen Tetelman
Bernard Ross
Marsh Pound
John Shyne
Sathya V. Hanagud
Headquarters 149 Commonwealth Drive, Menlo Park, California, United States
Key people
Catherine Corrigan, CEO
Number of employees
Website exponent.com

Exponent (formerly Failure Analysis Associates) is an American engineering and scientific consulting firm. Exponent has a multidisciplinary team of scientists, physicians, engineers, and business consultants which performs research and analysis in more than 90 technical disciplines. The company operates 20 offices in the United States and five offices overseas.


Founding and Leadership[edit]

Failure Analysis Associates (FaAA) was founded in April 1967 by then Stanford University professor Alan Stephen Tetelman along with his colleagues Bernard Ross, Marsh Pound, John Shyne and Sathya V. Hanagud with $500 in capital.[1][2][3]

At the time of FaAA's founding, Ross was also an engineering program manager at SRI International (then the Stanford Research Institute) (1965–1970).[4] While en route to the site of a Navy jet crash investigation, Tetelman was killed on September 25, 1978, in the PSA Flight 182 air crash over San Diego between a PSA jet liner and a private Cessna airplane that claimed the lives of 144 people. He was forty-two years old.[5]

Ross assumed the presidency of Failure Analysis Associates after the accident.[3] Ross and the late Tetelman were featured in a documentary film about the company titled "What Went Wrong" made by the United States Information Service and distributed worldwide.[6][7] Tetelman was a world-renowned expert in fracture mechanics and co-authored a textbook titled "The Principles of Engineering Materials" with Craig R. Barrett (former CEO of Intel) and Stanford professor, William D. Nix, published by Prentice-Hall in 1973.[5][8]

In 1982, Roger McCarthy assumed the leadership of FaAA, becoming Chief Executive Officer in 1982 until 1996, and Chairman of the Board in 1986 until 2005. McCarthy joined FaAA in 1978 and became a Director and Vice-President in 1980. In 2004, McCarthy was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.[9]

Michael R. Gaulke served as the Chief Executive Officer of Exponent Inc. from June 1996 to May 28, 2009. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Gaulke served as President of Exponent Inc. from March 1993 to May 22, 2007. Mr. Gaulke first joined Exponent Inc. in September 1992 and served as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. In 2008, Oregon State University inducted Mr. Gaulke into its Engineering Hall of Fame.[10]

Paul R. Johnston was the Chief Executive Officer at Exponent Inc. from May 28, 2009 – May 31 2018. Johnston was President of Exponent Inc. from May 2007 until July 2016. Johnston joined Exponent in 1981 and served as its Principal Engineer since 1987 and Vice President since 1996.[11] Johnston has co-authored a book titled "Structural Dynamics by Finite Elements" published by Prentice-Hall in 1987.[12] On May 31, 2018, Johnston stepped down from the position of Chief Executive Officer to be an Executive Chairman.[13]

Catherine Corrigan was named President of Exponent, Inc. on July 29, 2016. Dr. Corrigan joined Exponent’s Philadelphia office in 1996, was promoted to Principal in 2002 and to Corporate Vice President in 2005. Corrigan was promoted to Group Vice President to lead the Transportation Group and joined the Company’s Operating Committee in 2012.[14] On May 31, 2018 Corrigan was appointed to Chief Executive Officer.[13]


Failure Analysis Associates was founded as a partnership, incorporated in 1968 in California and reincorporated in Delaware as Failure Analysis Associates, Inc. in 1988. In 1989, McCarthy reincorporated Failure Analysis Associates, Inc. in Delaware under a holding company, The Failure Group, Inc. and took The Failure Group, Inc. public in 1990. The company changed its name to Exponent, Inc. in 1998.[9][15]

Company activities[edit]

Exponent has been involved in the investigations of many well known incidents including the now debunked report aired on Dateline in 1993 about fires and explosions involving sidesaddle fuel tanks on Chevrolet C/K trucks, the disputed Consumer Reports finding on Suzuki roll-over safety,[16] the 2009–2010 Toyota vehicle recalls, the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 among many other aviation accidents, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.[17] The Federal Emergency Management Agency also hired Exponent to examine the Oklahoma City bombing damage aftermath, specifically the damage to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.[17] NASA hired Exponent in 1986 to determine the causes of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. In 2003, Exponent was hired by the U.S. government to investigate the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.[18] In 2017, Samsung hired Exponent to determine cause of thermal runaway of the Note 7 Phone batteries.[19]

Exponent has ISO 9001 accreditation, indicating independently audited and certified quality management practices. The company also is certified for battery, energy storage and compliance testing.[20]


The quality and neutrality of reports produced by the company have been called into question on various controversial topics. Common points of critique include corporate denialism and that, for industrial clients, only favorable reports are seemingly produced. Examples include Exponent arguing that dioxins do not cause cancer.[21] These questions of conflict of interest have been disputed.[citation needed] The type of work that Exponent performs is contractually highly confidential—until their clients decide otherwise. Thus, while Exponent may issue reports that are both favorable and unfavorable to its clients, Exponent's clients have the option of only releasing the favorable reports, creating bias.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "Exponent's research has come under fire from critics, including engineers, attorneys and academics who say the company tends to deliver to clients the reports they need to mount a public defense."[17] Exponent's executive chairman responded that such criticism is a "cheap shot", responding "Do we tell our clients a lot of what they don't want to hear? Absolutely." but that they also often come up with results not favoring their clients. No concrete examples were however provided for the paper. In 2009, the Amazon Defense Coalition criticized an Exponent study commissioned by the energy company Chevron that dumping oil waste didn't cause cancer because Chevron's largest shareholder was a director on Exponent's board. The firm was also criticized for assisting industry efforts to reduce chromium regulation.[22]

Notable Projects[edit]

Partial listing of notable projects:

Research areas[edit]

Exponent's services are concentrated on multiple practices and centers, including:[20]


  1. ^ "Exponent Celebrates 39 Years of Engineering & Scientific Excellence". www.je.st. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  2. ^ "Prof. Sathya V Hanagud resume". Georgia tech. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "A California Firm Searches for a Cause in the Rubble of the Kansas City Hotel Disaster". People Magazine. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  4. ^ "Bernard Ross". Exponent, Inc. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "University of California: In Memoriam, 1980". University of California. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  6. ^ "Media Credits". www.craneprocon.com. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  7. ^ "WHAT WENT WRONG: MACHINE FAILURES 1977". YouTube. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  8. ^ The Principles of Engineering Materials. Prentice-Hall. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
  9. ^ a b "2nd Korybalski Lecture Features Roger McCarthy". University of Michigan. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  10. ^ "Michael R. Gaulke". Oregon State University. Archived from the original on December 10, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  11. ^ "Paul R. Johnston". Business Week. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  12. ^ Structural Dynamics by Finite Elements. Prentice-Hall. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Exponent, Inc. (EXPO) Names Catherine Corrigan CEO and Paul R. Johnston as Executive Chairman". StreetInsider.com. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  14. ^ http://www.exponent.com/newsevents/press-releases/2016/07/catherine-corrigan-named-president
  15. ^ "10-K SEC Filing". http://sec.edgar-online.com. Retrieved June 10, 2010. External link in |publisher= (help)
  16. ^ Hakim, Danny. "Suzuki Resolves a Dispute With a Consumer Magazine", The New York Times, 9 July 2004.
  17. ^ a b c Bensinger, Ken; Vartabedian, Ralph (February 18, 2010). "Toyota calls in Exponent Inc. as hired gun". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  18. ^ Thomas, Ken; Manning, Stephen (March 8, 2010). "Toyota disputes critic who blames electronics". Associated Press. Retrieved March 8, 2010.[dead link]
  19. ^ "[Infographic] Galaxy Note7: What We Discovered". news.samsung.com. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  20. ^ a b EXPONENT INC (EXPO:US): Company Profile - BusinessWeek
  21. ^ Hardell, Lennart; Walker, Martin J.; Walhjalt, Bo; Friedman, Lee S.; Richter, Elihu D. (March 2007). "Secret ties to industry and conflicting interests in cancer research". American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Wiley Subscription Services, Inc. 50 (3): 227–233. doi:10.1002/ajim.20357. PMID 17086516. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  22. ^ Michaels, D; Monforton, C; Lurie, P (2006). "Selected science: an industry campaign to undermine an OSHA hexavalent chromium standard". Environ Health. 5: 5. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-5-5. PMC 1402271. PMID 16504102.
  23. ^ "Case: Side Saddle Gas Tanks". Wadsworth.com. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  24. ^ "Suzuki Sues Magazine for Critical Samurai Review". LA Times. April 12, 1996. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  25. ^ "Airliner Crash". PBS. November 12, 2001. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  26. ^ "MEET THE MEMBER - Russ Westmann". American Society of Civil Engineers. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  27. ^ "Exxon Valdez Oil Spill". Exponent, Inc. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  28. ^ "Oklahoma City Bombing". Exponent, Inc. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  29. ^ "Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster". Exponent, Inc. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  30. ^ a b c "Exponent: The Company That Failure Built". Failure Magazine. failuremag.com. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  31. ^ "Kansas City Hyatt Regency". Exponent, Inc. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  32. ^ "Affidavit by the CEO of Failure Analysis Associates". assassinationweb.com. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  33. ^ "JFK Assassination". Exponent, Inc. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  34. ^ "Multimedia". Exponent, Inc. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  35. ^ "World Trade Center". Exponent, Inc. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  36. ^ Wells, Theodore V., Jr.; Karp, Brad S.; Reisner, Lorin L. (May 6, 2015). "Investigative report concerning footballs used during the AFC Championship game on January 18, 2015" (pdf). Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  37. ^ "[Infographic] Galaxy Note7: What We Discovered". Samsung. Retrieved Aug 15, 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°28′53.7″N 122°10′25.6″W / 37.481583°N 122.173778°W / 37.481583; -122.173778