Dr Rachael C Tighe

Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering

Qualifications: MPhys (Hons) Physics; MSc Environmental Technology; PhD University of Southampton

About Rachael

Rachael received her Masters in Physics from Lancaster University, UK, in 2007 where her dissertation project was  to investigate the occurrence of pile-up/sink-in caused by nanoindentation tests on different materials and crystal orientations. She continued her studies by completing a Masters of Science in Environmental Technology also from Lancaster University where her dissertation was to use electrical spectroscopy to determine the porosity of aquifer sandstones. After a year of travelling and working Rachael returned to academia to undertake a PhD within the Engineering Department at the University of Southampton, UK which she completed in 2014. The PhD thesis was entitled Development of infrared techniques for practical defect identification in bonded joints and was sponsored by the Lloyd's Register Foundation and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Rachael was awarded an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Research Fellowship (2014-2015) at the University of Southampton where she worked on development of strain based techniques non destructive inspection techniques for onsite application. Following on from this Rachael was Research Fellow at Southampton for a further 18 months where she worked on an Innovate UK funded project entitled Residual Stress and Structural Integrity Assessment using Thermography (RESIST). In 2017 Rachael moved to the Defence Academy of the UK where she lectured on materials and structural integrity based courses while continuing her research into inspection techniques for assessment of thermal fatigue and defect detection. Rachael joined the University of Waikato in 2018 where her research will continue along the  theme of developing and using inspection techniques to reveal more information about systems.

Research Interests

Rachael is currently looking for PhD students to work with her in the field of non-destructive evaluation looking at advancing existing techniques, finding new applications and tackling current inspection challenges.

Rachael’s research interests are in non-destructive evaluation of materials, components and structures. Such inspection applications range from inline manufacturing quality control to in-service through life inspections. Research to date has largely focused on the use and development of using imaging techniques such as pulse phase thermography (defect detection), thermoelastic stress analysis (stress distributions) and digital image correlation (displacements/strain) to gather such information. Looking forward it is envisaged that such imaging techniques could be coupled with other sensing systems to reveal complimentary information to build more complete understanding. The overall aim is to build from detecting defects towards assessing the impact of those defects on the component, i.e. there is a defect, now do we care?

To date research has look predominantly at structural materials including metals and carbon and glass based composites. A second stream of research is to assess if existing techniques are well suited to new materials such as additive manufactured materials or advanced or bio composites.

A further area of interest is determining material properties based on the use of such imaging approaches. This could be of particular importance where material properties vary throughout a manufactured component and so a point measurement or global test may not fully reflect the material itself. Such an approach could be used to gain a better understanding of manufacturing approaches or variables.

Teaching Commitments


Engineering; Materials and Processing; Mechanical; Remote Sensing

Recent Publications

  • Olafsson, G., Tighe, R. C., & Dulieu-Barton, J. M. (2018). Improving the probing depth of thermographic inspections of polymer composite materials. Measurement Science and Technology. doi:10.1088/1361-6501/aaed15

  • Tighe, R. C., Dulieu-Barton, J. M., Quinn, S., & Tighe, R. C. (2017). Infrared techniques for practical defect identification in bonded joints in liquefied natural gas vessels. Experimental Techniques, 42(2), 121-128. doi:10.1007/s40799-017-0200-7

  • Crump, D. A., Sathon, N., Ahmed, S. I., Allen, T. M., Tighe, R. C., Reed, P. A., & Dulieu-Barton, J. M. (2017). Development of a technique for evaluating damage in composite overwrapped pressure vessel using TSA. In 21st International Conference on Composite Materials. Conference held Xi'an, China.

  • Olafsson, G., Pujol-Soliano Dualde, A., Tighe, R. C., & Dulieu-Barton, J. M. (2017). The influence of sandwich structure core materials on thermographic NDT techniques. In 21st International Conference on Composite Materials. Conference held Xi'an, China.

View All research publications by Rachael Tighe

Contact Details

Room: EF.2.01
Phone: +64 7 838 4109