From ships to aircraft, bridges and pipelines; history has seen numerous catastrophic structural failures, such as the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia on re-entry due to sustained wing damage, the explosive decompression of China Airlines Flight 611 from undetected metal fatigue and the Esso Longford refinery explosion caused by a brittle fracture of an oil pump. As well as the injuries and death that such events can cause, such failures result in inconvenience and economic loss. In many cases, the failure of a component or structure in-service is due to the presence of mechanical damage, such as fatigue cracks for metal or delamination for composite materials. There is, therefore, a need to evaluate the strength and integrity of engineering structures.

The Structural Analysis program therefore involves theoretical and applied research in the broad fields of solid mechanics, damage mechanics, and non-destructive testing.  Specifically, the development of technologies for the detection of structural flaws before they cause failure.

Research projects

  • Surface strain measurement using 3D scanning laser vibrometry
    This research involves the development of software to determine surface strain from three-dimensional displacements measured by a 3D laser scanning Doppler vibrometer. The technique has significant potential for further research into areas of stress analysis, non-destructive evaluation, damage mechanics and fracture mechanics.
  • Non-destructive evaluation of composite thin plates
  • Development of a new technique for detecting damage in composite thin plates, based on the governing differential equations of plate deflection. This research involved the theoretical evaluation of the technique using computer simulations and experimental validation using a 3D scanning laser Doppler vibrometer.
  • Analytical modelling of delamination damage
    This involves the development of an analytical model of a delaminated plate under arbitrary loading. The analytical model will be validated using finite element modelling and an experimental investigation using 3D scanning laser Doppler vibrometry.


A/Prof Andrei Kotousov, A/Prof Ben Cazzolato, Dr. John Codrington from the Fracture Mechanics and Composites Research Group at School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Adelaide.

Postgraduate and Collaborative Research Opportunities

We are looking for collaborators and postgraduate research students to join active research projects in the following areas:

  • Experimental Strain Measurement
    Development of a strain measurement system using a 3D scanning laser Doppler vibrometer for the use on curved surfaces.
  • Stress Intensity Factor Measurement
    Development of a technique for the evaluation of stress intensity factor a fatigue cracks using a 3D scanning laser Doppler vibrometry.
  • Mechanics of Delamination
    Development of analytical models of delamination damage in composite laminate plate and shell structures with experimental validation.
  • Non-destructive Testing
    Developing new techniques based on scanning laser Doppler vibrometry for the detection of damage, such as delamination, cracks, etc.

We actively supervise and support many student projects at both honours and post-graduate levels and invite students who are interested in pursuing research in the area of Structural Analysis to contact us for further information.

Further information

If you are interested in pursuing research relating to failure analysis and structural damage other than those stated, please contact the program leader to discuss your ideas as we welcome new directions and interests.  We would also be happy to provide more information about the School's research programs, the opportunities for higher degree study and scholarship information.  For more information, please contact the research group leader Dr Stuart Wildy.