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 is a member of the Waikato Robotics, Automation and Sensing (WaiRAS), Centre for Advanced Materials and Manufacture (WaiCAMM) and Resilience, Infrastructure and Construction Research Groups.

Rachael’s research interests are in non-destructive evaluation of materials, components and structures. Such inspection applications range from online 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? Work encompasses a variety of traditional and advanced materials, manufacturing and structures.

Research Supervised

Current projects:

Non Destructive Evaluation of adhesive bonds in composite aircraft using thermography

Thermographic assessment of additive manufactured materials

Online inspection of reinforced 3D printing filament

Inspection of seals in multi layer packaging

Plastic recycling and reuse

Teaching Commitments


Engineering; Materials and Processing; Mechanical; Remote Sensing

Recent Publications

  • Seabright, M., Streeter, L., Cree, M., Duke, M., & Tighe, R. (2018). Simple stereo matching algorithm for localising keypoints in a restricted search space. In 2018 International Conference on Image and Vision Computing New Zealand (IVCNZ) (pp. 6 pages). Conference held Auckland, New Zealand: IEEE. doi:10.1109/IVCNZ.2018.8634791 Open Access version:

  • 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. (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

  • 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