Expert on metals

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iain_lemayA CARDROSS man who has spent most of his life in Canada is a proud holder of the highest honour of the International Metallographic Society and a renowned expert witness.

Dr Iain Le May, whose speed skater daughter Catriona is the only individual Canadian to win back to back Olympic gold medals, received the honour in 2005.

A world renowned metal failure analyst, he was presented with the Henry Clifton Sorby Award in recognition of his lifetime of achievement in the field at the 38th annual meeting of the IMS, of which he is also a Fellow, in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 3 that year.

His father Arthur, who lived in Cardross before retiring to near Lochgilphead, was a chemist and optician with premises in West Clyde Street, Helensburgh.

Born in 1936 and named John on his birth certificate, Iain was educated at Helensburgh’s Larchfield (now Lomond) School, Glasgow Academy, the Royal College of Science and Technology (now Strathclyde University) and Glasgow University.

During his undergraduate years he served as a student apprentice with the North British Locomotive Company during the summer holidays in the sandwich degree programme in mechanical engineering.

After a short period in the NB Locos design office, he joined the staff of the Glasgow University mechanical engineering department, teaching and conducting research as part of a programme dealing with the properties of steam at high temperature and pressure.

He and his wife Shona, who was born in Wick and brought up in Glasgow, emigrated to Canada in 1963, where he joined the University of Saskatchewan mechanical engineering department as an assistant professor with responsibility for materials teaching and research.

He was promoted to associate and in 1971 to professor. While there he established an active group with his graduate students, dealing with a variety of topics relating to the relationships between microstructure and mechanical behaviour.

In 1970 he became a member of the editorial advisory board of the journal ‘Metallography’, now called ‘Materials Characterisation’, and he was a member of the IMS board of directors from 1971-75 and 1985-95, serving as president from 1991-93.

He was also very involved on many international conference committees and standards committees over the years.

He established his consulting company, Metallurgical Consulting Services Ltd., based in Saskatoon, in 1978 and three years later he started MCS Associates, Inc., in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This led to a conflict between his university and business interests, so in 1985 he left the university to devote himself to his consulting practice. But he continued to take a close interest in academic study and research, and served as an associate professor at the University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

catriona_lemay_doan_copyHe travelled widely for consulting work and co-operative projects, including the establishment of links with developing countries through the Canadian International Development Research Centre. He was involved for many years in work with several Latin American countries.

He is the author of over 300 publications, including several books, and has written widely on the mechanical behaviour of metals, including creep, fatigue and fracture, as well as on metallographic techniques and failure analysis procedures. He has appeared many times as an expert witness in product liability cases.

A Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, Dr Le May continues to serve on a number of national and international committees.

His daughter Catriona (right), who was born in 1970 in Saskatoon and is now Mrs LeMay Doan, took part in competitive speed skating for 23 years and was world no.1 in her events for several years before retiring from the sport in 2006.

Known as 'The Cat', she won the hearts of all Canadians with her infectious smile, warmth, and her commitment to excellence.