Principal Research Engineer - Fire Safety Research Institute

Location US-MD-Columbia
Job ID
# of Openings
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General – Green Earth – Safer World

At UL, we know why we come to work.

We have an exciting opportunity for a Principal Research Engineer to join our growing Underwriters Laboratories Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI).  FSRI research addresses the world’s unresolved fire safety risks and emerging dangers.  


As a principal research engineer, you will collaborate with other researchers to apply a wide variety of scientific knowledge based in the discipline of fire protection engineering with the goal of improving fire safety in residential and commercial occupancies.  In this position, you will apply your knowledge of state-of-the-art engineering principals and theories, as well as fire measurement expertise, and computational fire modeling to a wide range of fire safety research-based problems.


Specifically, this position is focused on addressing concerns related to advancements in experimental measurement and analysis of fire phenomena.  Current research areas include compartment fire dynamics, fire modeling in the use of fire safety design and fire reconstruction, and emerging fire safety challenges.


Underwriters Laboratories Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) advances fire safety knowledge to address the world’s unresolved fire safety risks and emerging dangers. As part of Underwriters Laboratories Inc., the non-profit organization within the UL enterprise, we are committed to sharing our fire safety insights with everyone to advance UL’s public safety mission of providing safe living and working environments for people everywhere. Through advanced fire science, rigorous research, extensive outreach and education in collaboration with our international network of partners, we impart stakeholders with the information, tools and resources that enable them to make better, more fire-safe decisions that ultimately save lives and property. To learn more, visit

At Underwriters Laboratories, we wake up every day with a common purpose: to make the world a safer, more secure and sustainable place. Science is in our DNA; we are endlessly curious and passionate about seeking and speaking the truth. We take delight in knowing that our work makes a meaningful contribution to society, and we are proud that our culture is centered on integrity, collaboration, inclusion and excellence. Underwriters Laboratories stands at the forefront of technological advancement, and we are continually challenged to find new ways to foster innovation and positive change. Satisfying? Yes. Exciting? Absolutely!

What you’ll learn & achieve:

As a Principal Research Engineer, you will play a key role in the fire safety research conducted by the UL Fire Safety Research Institute as you:

Conduct literature reviews to analyze fire incident data and laboratory test results to determine causes of problems and develop solutions. 


  • Initiate, plan, direct, design, and execute scientific research experiments and related activities to ensure timely completion of projects. Evaluate and document your results in formal reports and in peer-reviewed journal articles.
  • Apply intensive and diverse knowledge of engineering concepts to specific research tasks. Exercise a high degree of judgment in formulating, evaluating, and correlating broad engineering research concepts and guiding the analysis of unique problems and developing new and improved techniques and methods.
  • Serve as the primary source for fundamental engineering research and acts as an in-house and external consultant.
  • Serve as a technical mentor to less experienced engineering staff.
  • Conduct research using physical and computational test methods ranging from micro-scale through full-scale.
  • Serve as primary investigator (PI) for large research projects. 
  • Develop project proposals and demonstrate ability to lead a research team. 
  • Track record of national & international presentations and publications. 
  • Active in leadership of national organizations or associations.
  • Participates in strategic planning and long-range planning exercises. Perform measurements with a variety of instruments and apparatus.  This includes understanding the principles of operation to ensure appropriate application, functionality of the device, and the calibration status. Keep work area neat, clean, and safe.
  • Ensure that all data is backed-up and is entered into the laboratory information management system (LIMS) or data repository and archived in a timely and accurate manner.
  • Stay ahead of changing technologies in the field by reading journals, scientific publications, and attending academic conferences.
  • Demonstrates potential for technical proficiency, scientific creativity, collaboration with others, and independent thought.
  • Read and follow the Underwriters Laboratories Code of Conduct, and follow all laboratory safety, physical and digital security practices.
  •  Performs other duties as directed.


UL has COVID-19 protocols and policies in place to ensure the safety of our employees, customers and clients. Effective November 1, 2021, the company mandates that employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment (except where prohibited by law), subject to reasonable accommodation as required by law.

What makes you a great fit:

The ideal candidate will bring several qualities to the team, including:

  • Positive and collaborative work ethic
  • Ability to operate at a strategic and operational level, including attention to detail and the ability to perform assigned duties
  • Positive and collaborative Interpersonal skills to work effectively with researchers across the organization.
  • High degree of curiosity to learn and support the fire safety research mission.
  • Problem solving skills with the ability to identify root causes, develop practical solutions, and work in collaboration with other researchers to address technical challenges.
  • Excellent written and oral communication and clear presentation skills
  • Responsiveness, flexibility, and a sense of urgency, with focus on both results and improvements for the short and long term.  
  • This position requires travel on the order of 60 days per year.


Professional experience and education requirements for the role include: 

  • Ph.D. in fire protection engineering, or other related technology discipline plus at least twelve years of direct related research experience.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct research and complete peer-reviewed journal articles to advance fire safety science.
  • Demonstrated expertise in reduced and full-scale fire experiments, fire laboratory design, and analysis of fire phenomena.
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain engineering based academic and applied knowledge and skills.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of programing languages for data acquisition, analysis and report development.
  • High Proficiency with MS Office, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Proficiency with LaTeX, Git, and Python is a plus. 

What you’ll experience working at UL:

  • Mission: For Underwriters Laboratories, corporate and social responsibility isn’t new. Making the world a safer, more secure and sustainable place has been our business model for the last 128 years and is deeply ingrained in everything we do.
  • People: Ask any Underwriters Laboratories employee what they love most about working here, and you’ll almost always hear, “the people.” Going beyond what is possible is the standard at Underwriters Laboratories. We’re able to deliver the best because we employ the best.
  • Interesting work: Every day is different for us here as we eagerly anticipate the next innovation that our customers’ create. We’re inspired to take on the challenge that will transform how people live, work and play. And as a global company, in many roles, you will get international experience working with colleagues around the world.
  • Grow & achieve: We learn, work and grow together with targeted development, reward and recognition programs as well as our very own UL University that offers extensive training programs for employees at all stages, including a technical training track for applicable roles.
  • Total Rewards: All employees at Underwriters Laboratories are eligible for bonus compensation. Underwriters Laboratories offers a generous 401k matching structure of up to 5% of eligible pay. Additionally, we invest an additional 4% into your retirement saving fund after your first year of continuous employment. We provide Healthcare Reimbursement Accounts and Health Savings Accounts that Underwriters Laboratories contributes to twice per year! Depending on your role, you can work with your manager on flexible working arrangements. We also provide employees with paid time off including vacation, holiday, sick and volunteer time off.

Learn More:

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing safety science research through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge. We conduct rigorous independent research and analyze safety data, convene experts worldwide to address risks, share knowledge through safety education and public outreach initiatives, and develop standards to guide safe commercialization of evolving technologies. We foster communities of safety, from grassroots initiatives for neighborhoods to summits of world leaders. Our organization employs collaborative and scientific approaches with partners and stakeholders to drive innovation and progress toward improving safety, security, and sustainability, ultimately enhancing societal well-being.

Our wholly owned subsidiary, UL Inc., advances our shared public safety mission. We fund our work through grants, the licensing of standards documents and the business activities of UL Inc., which conducts testing, verification and certification, and provides training and advisory services, along with data-driven reporting and decision-making tools for customers around the world.

To learn more, visit


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