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.  

Based in 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 include: 

  • Founder and Director of SEARCH, a £29M Sensor Enabled Automation, Robotics & Control Hub. 
  • Holds Spirit Aerosystems/ Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair In-process Non-destructive Testing for Composites
  • Track record of multidisciplinary, industrial knowledge exchange in sectors including aerospace, nuclear, oil & gas, energy, automotive, construction and healthcare. 
  • Proven capability to migrate university research into industry
  • Visiting Professorship – Production Technology Centre, Högskolan Väst, Sweden
  • John Grimwade Medal -Recipient for best paper in Insight (British Institute of Non Destructive Testing) in 2015



Has expertise in:

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

Prizes 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


Dual-tandem phased array method for imaging of near-vertical defects in narrow-gap welds
Nicolson Ewan, Mohseni Ehsan, Sumana Sumana, Lines David, Pierce Gareth, MacLeod Charles N
ANRC Nuclear Showcase (2023)
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)
Dual-tandem phased array method for imaging of near-vertical defects in narrow-gap welds
Nicolson Ewan, Mohseni Ehsan, Sumana , Lines David, Pierce Gareth, MacLeod Charles N
NDT and E International Vol 135 (2023)
A sensor enabled robotic strategy for automated defect-free multi-pass high-integrity welding
Loukas Charalampos, Warner Veronica, Jones Richard, MacLeod Charles N, Vasilev Momchil, Mohseni Ehsan, Dobie Gordon, Sibson Jim, Pierce Stephen G, Gachagan Anthony
Materials and Design Vol 224 (2022)
Transfer learning for classification of experimental ultrasonic non-destructive testing images from synthetic data
McKnight Shaun, MacKinnon Christopher, Mohseni Ehsan, Pierce Gareth, MacLeod Charles Norman, O'Hare Tom
IOP Physics Enhancing Machine Learning in Applied Solid Mechanics (2022)
Automated bounding box annotation for NDT ultrasound defect detection
Tunukovic Vedran, Lawley Alistair, McKnight Shaun, Mohseni Ehsan, Dobie Gordon, O'Hare Tom, MacLeod Charles Norman, Pierce Gareth
IOP Physics Enhancing Machine Learning in Applied Solid Mechanics (2022)

More publications


I am course organiser for EE312, Instrumentation & Microcontrollers which provides a challenging mix of measurement techniques, analogue and digital electronics, combined with computer programming and interfacing.  I also contribute as project co-ordinator and assessor for EM502 Advanced Systems Engineering as well as supervising, mentoring and grading students engaged in EEE, EME and CES individual and group projects.  

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 £25M SEARCH facility 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

Chalmers University Sweden, External Examiner PhD Xiangyu Lei
External Examiner
Internal Examiner, Euan Duernberger PhD Viva
Högskolan Väst Additive Manufacture & Automation Workshop
KUKA Strategic Partnership Foundation
Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair Technical Visit
Royal Academy of Engineering Research Forum 2022

More professional activities


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
DTP 2224 University of Strathclyde | Agnew, William
MacLeod, Charles Norman (Principal Investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Co-investigator) Agnew, William (Research Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2022 - 01-Jan-2026
Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) ‎- Bridging the Gaps (BTG) – Net Zero / Circular Economy
Javadi, Yashar (Principal Investigator) Lotfian, Saeid (Co-investigator) MacLeod, Charles Norman (Co-investigator) Mehmanparast, Ali (Co-investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Co-investigator) Brennan, Feargal (Co-investigator) Gachagan, Anthony (Co-investigator)
In-situ Robotic and Ultrasonic Stress Measurement for Predictive ‎Maintenance of Offshore Wind Bolted Flange Connections
01-Jan-2022 - 01-Jan-2023
Ultrasound and Eddy Currents Sensor data Fusion for Welding and Additive manufacturing
Mohseni, Ehsan (Principal Investigator) Javadi, Yashar (Co-investigator) MacLeod, Charles Norman (Co-investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Co-investigator) Wathavana Vithanage, Randika Kosala (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2022 - 31-Jan-2023
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Ultrasonic Engineering (FUSE CDT) -PhD studentship
Tunukovic, Vedran (Principal Investigator) Mohseni, Ehsan (Principal Investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Principal Investigator) Dobie, Gordon (Principal Investigator) Cochran, Sandy (Principal Investigator)
Automated Ultrasound Data Processing for Defect Detection and Characterization Through Machine Learning
01-Jan-2022 - 01-Jan-2025
Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) - New Organisation Engagement
Mohseni, Ehsan (Principal Investigator) MacLeod, Charles Norman (Principal Investigator) Pierce, Gareth (Principal Investigator) Javadi, Yashar (Principal Investigator) Wathavana Vithanage, Randika Kosala (Principal Investigator)
Non-destructive evaluation and process optimization for inspection complex components
15-Jan-2022 - 15-Jan-2023

More projects


Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Royal College

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