Professor Stephen Pierce

Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Personal statement

Professor Gareth Pierce leads a multidisciplinary team at Strathclyde University comprising Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Mathematicians, Physicists and Bioengineers.  He promotes collaborative research through an international network of academic partners and promotes impact though relationships with multi sector industry partners and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centres in the UK.  His leadership values strive to embrace a person-centred approach.  

As Co-Director of the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering, the focus of his work is robotics and autonomous systems for inspection, including non-destructive testing and evaluation (NDT&E) for manufacture, and structural health monitoring (SHM) for asset inspection. The multidisciplinary nature of his work brings together robotics, instrumentation and interfacing, applied optics, ultrasonics, 3D metrology and machine learning based data management.  These themes resonate closely with the fundamental concepts of Industry 4. 

 Notable achievements and responsibilities include: 

  • Robotics & Autonomous Systems Lead Co-ordinator at Strathclyde University
  • Co-director Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering
  • Founder and Director of applied NDT technology transfer laboratory (SEARCH – Sensor Enabled Automation, Robotics & Control Hub) with £37M project portfolio
  • Holds Spirt Aerosystems/ Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair In –process inspection of composites
  • Research Strategy Lead RCNDE (
  • Member BSi AMT/8 Additive Manufacturing Standards Committee
  • SRPe Robotics and Autonomous Systems Thematic Leadership Group
  • Visiting Professorship – Production Technology Centre, Högskolan Väst, Sweden
  • Proven capability to migrate university research into industry


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Area of Expertise

  • Robotics and autonomous systems
  • Non-destructive Testing and Evaluation (NDT&E)
  • Ultrasonics
  • Applied sensing/ instrumentation
  • Machine learning/ pattern recognition
  • Psychotherapy & Counselling

Prize And Awards

The BINDT Annual Conference Award
Knowledge Exchange Award
The John Grimwade Medal

More prizes and awards


BSc (Hons) 1st Class, Pure and Applied Physics 1989, Department of Physics, University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology, UMIST.

PhD,“Development of Fibre-Optic Interferometers for the Measurement Of Laser-Generated Ultrasound” 1993, Department of Instrumentation and Analytical Science (DIAS), UMIST.

City & Guilds 2381, Electrical Installations, Requirement for IEE Regulations (BS7671), July 2008

City & Guilds 2391, Inspection, Testing and Certification of Electrical Installations, July 2009

PGDip Psychological Wellbeing, Counselling & Psychotherapy, Nov 2021, University of Aberdeen

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Thermal compensation of ultrasonic transmit and receive data for steel welded plates at the point of manufacture
Foster Euan A, Sweeney Nina E, Nicolson Ewan, Singh Jonathan, Rizwan Muhammad K, Lines David, Pierce Gareth, Mohseni Ehsan, Gachagan Anthony, Tant Katherine MM, MacLeod Charles N
NDT and E International Vol 137 (2023)
In-process phased array ultrasonic weld pool monitoring
Sweeney Nina E, Parke Simon, Lines David, Loukas Charalampos, Vasilev Momchil, Pierce Stephen G, MacLeod Charles N
NDT and E International Vol 137 (2023)
Flexible robotics for automated non-destructive testing
Hifi Amine, Wathavana Vithanage Randika Kosala, McKnight Shaun, Poole Alastair, Loukas Charalampos, Nicolson Ewan, Allan Ethan, MacLeod Charles Norman, Pierce Gareth, O'Hare Tom
50th Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation (2023)
Phased array inspection of narrow-gap weld LOSWF defects for in-process weld inspection
Nicolson Ewan, Mohseni Ehsan, Tant Katherine Margaret Mary, Lines David, Pierce Gareth, MacLeod Charles Norman
50th Annual Review of Progress in Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation (2023)
Flexible and automated robotic multi-pass arc welding
Loukas Charalampos, Warner Veronica, Jones Richard, MacLeod Charles Norman, Dobie Gordon, Sibson Jim, Pierce Gareth, Gachagan Anthony
Intelligent Welding Symposium (2023)
A novel procedure for the ultrasonic inspection of wind turbine bolted connections
Mills Brandon, Javadi Yashar, Lotfian Saeid, Abad Farhad, MacLeod Charles Norman, Lines David, Brennan Feargal, Pierce Gareth, Mehmanparast Ali, Gachagan Anthony
Supergen ORE Annual Assembly (2023)

More publications

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Research Interests

To address tomorrow’s technology challenges, it is essential to be building new research capability in the next generation robotics and automation platforms that typically employ a radical shift in human-machine interactions.  Working closely with robotics manufacturers, integrators and supply chains is essential to turn underpinning advances in science, into new innovative products and services.  In parallel to such industrial engagement, the development of new robot programming and sensor interfacing paradigms feeds directly into a contemporary framework for teaching and training with a range of education stakeholders (undergraduate, postgraduate, continued professional development).  Measurement and instrumentation systems play a key role in enabling this capability, allowing sensory perception of the environment, and adaptive behaviour from automation systems allowing operation in unstructured and dynamic environments.  Processing the data from such measurement systems demands new approaches in signal conditioning and interpretation, employing the latest developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide real-time adaptive response to measurement data.  A current focus for this framework of sensor enabled automation lies in materials and structural quality assurance, through non-destructive testing and evaluation (NDT&E), and structural health monitoring (SHM).  These traditionally separate disciplines have moved closer over the past decade, allowing a more holistic approach to through life structure performance to be realised, from manufacture, through service-life operation, and finally through to decommissioning and remanufacture/ recycling. 


My central research interest is in robotic and automated technologies for Non-Destructive Testing & Evaluation (NDT&E) - encompassing both traditional fixed industrial robotics, and mobile vehicle technologies (including UAVs) for applications in engineering inspection. Increasingly the automation of NDT is increasingly utilised in manufacturing, this includes ultrasonic, visual and electromagnetic testing. Modern additive manufacturing techniques in particular bring new challenges to both the measurement sensors employed, and real time deployment and feedback into manufacturing processes.  

My research embraces the concepts of through-life asset management where the boundaries between NDT&E and conventional Structual Health and Condition Monitoring (SHM) are increasingly being broken down; so my research also covers wider aspects of structural integrity in sectors including aerospace, energy, oil and gas, nuclear and healthcare.   

Positioning technologies have been identified as an obstacle to the effective uptake of robotic NDT technologies, and to this end I have initiated research into a fully probabilistic basis for the challenging problems involving robot location, data fusion between multiple sensors, and mapping problems.  This naturally extends into work for full 3D metrology systems where my work is closely linked into metrology at NPL to understand how technology can be translated into the challenging manufacturing environment to support new automated systems working safely with humans.  

The £37M SEARCH hub encompasses my inspection work across the manufacturing and asset management applications spaces, involving automation and robotics.   My expertise in Non Destructive Evaluation (spanning 30 years) and in-process robotic inspection (>12 years) are key differentiators, allowing me to focus around Sensor Enabled Automation.  

SEARCH comprises a laboratory in Royal College R2.41 which focusses on manufacturing applications (Composites Inspection, Metal Additive Manufacturing inspection, and In-Process Welding Inspection), and the Technology Innovation Centre TIC 7.14 focused on asset management applications (Crawler and UAV Inspection for Nuclear, Oil & Gas,  Energy and Renewables).  

Research activities in SEARCH fall between the 3 themes of:

  1. Physical Sensors (transduction/ measurement)
  2. Sensor Deployment (robotics)
  3. Data Interpretation (machine learning/ statistical methods)


Professional Activities

Flexible Robotics for Automated Non-Destructive Testing
KUKA Jeff Nowill
Towards Flexible and Automated Robotic Multi-Pass Arc Welding
Birmingham Energy Innovation Centre
Visiting researcher
Sensor Enabled Automation : Introduction to Full Lifecycle Inspection: National Robotarium
Flexible Robotics to Inspect Aerospace Components​

More professional activities


EPSRC Vacation Internship - Zhiming Wang
Mohseni, Ehsan (Principal Investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2023 - 11-Jan-2023
Fusing a future from Glasgow’s proud heritage: Schedule Guaranteed High-Integrity Structures for a Secure, Safe and Resilient Transition to Net Zero (Innovation Accelerator)
MacLeod, Charles Norman (Principal Investigator) Dobie, Gordon (Co-investigator) Fitzpatrick, Stephen (Co-investigator) Gachagan, Anthony (Co-investigator) Javadi, Yashar (Co-investigator) Mohseni, Ehsan (Co-investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Co-investigator) Stratoudaki, Theodosia (Co-investigator) Tant, Katherine Margaret Mary (Co-investigator) Wathavana Vithanage, Randika Kosala (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2023 - 31-Jan-2025
EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) - New Organisation Engagement (NOV)
Mohseni, Ehsan (Principal Investigator) MacLeod, Charles Norman (Co-investigator) Wathavana Vithanage, Randika Kosala (Co-investigator) Javadi, Yashar (Co-investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Co-investigator)
Non-destructive evaluation and process optimization for inspection complex components
01-Jan-2022 - 15-Jan-2023
DTP 2224 University of Strathclyde | Agnew, William
MacLeod, Charles Norman (Principal Investigator) Dobie, Gordon (Co-investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Co-investigator) Agnew, William (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2022 - 01-Jan-2026
Human-Robot-Collaboration to Inspect High-Value Components Manufactured by Additive Technologies
Wathavana Vithanage, Randika Kosala (Principal Investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Co-investigator) MacLeod, Charles Norman (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2022 - 30-Jan-2025
DTP 2224 University of Strathclyde | Gomes, Rylan
Mohseni, Ehsan (Principal Investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Co-investigator) Gomes, Rylan (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2022 - 01-Jan-2026

More projects

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Professor Stephen Pierce
Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Tel: 548 2617