According to Drew Killius, searching for (and finding) answers is the best way to explain how the world works. And when it doesn’t, Killius is probably the guy you want working on the reasons behind a product’s failure.
As Senior Materials Scientist at Analytical Answers, Inc., he’s been asked multiple times about the questions he has to ask on a daily basis. His inquisitiveness once even drove an acquaintance to stridently ask, “Why do you have to know all that stuff?!”
Killius’ answer would likely be – though we didn’t want to ask him the question again – to solve problems, help companies and consumers, and to locate solutions. With a background in chemistry and geology, he chose the sciences as a career. Though he says if he went in a different direction vocationally, it would have been in a skilled field like tradesman, plumber or even airline pilot. Killius still gets to use some of his hands-on fixing skills at AAI when instruments act up or there’s a small machine-shop project to tackle.
Similar to the other scientists at Analytical Answers, Killius has worked on numerous projects that can’t be discussed in detail because of non-disclosure agreements. But when asked about his successes, he points to whitepapers that discuss materials and their composition. These are available at the AAI lab in Woburn and here on the Website: Failure Analysis of a Motorcycle Suspension and The Tale of a Spark Plug.
According to Killius, “Many of the things I work on are high-reliability items that aren’t. This frightens people.”
Ultimately, it’s through the analysis Killius performs on products and their material make-up that helps companies improve devices and eliminate defects. Without the AAI team, there might be more items in use that are prone to failure…and these failures can have significant consequences.
Hypothetically, you only have to think about what might happen if a toothpaste tube’s material was incapable of keeping toothpaste inside under certain environmental conditions. While less serious than some of the cases Killius works on, the toothpaste tube imaginary example could become a messy nuisance. Be assured, his real case studies and projects are much more serious. Yet he has an affinity for the companies and brands he helps.
“I use the products that I work on, because I know that the folks who make them give a damn,” said Killius. “It’s all those other guys that I never see that I worry about.”
Outside of the lab, he’s also active and energetic. Aside from his love of photography, Killius enjoys motorcycling, high-end woodworking projects, and he’s even made several telescopes by hand.
Science is a profession that attracts all kinds of people, but the trait the best scientists possess is the same: A curious nature and the drive to find answers to challenges as yet unsolved.
Drew Killius fits that description to a T.