Dr Keith Tarnowski

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Senior University Teacher

Photo of Keith Tarnowski
Profile picture of Photo of Keith Tarnowski
+44 114 222 7721

Full contact details

Dr Keith Tarnowski
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Sir Frederick Mappin Building
Mappin Street
S1 3JD

I am a University Teacher in the Design, Manufacturing & Management group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a Chartered Mechanical Engineer.

I obtained my first degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Sheffield, graduating in 2004, before working for Atkins Engineering Consultants for 8 years on a variety of projects which incorporated structural integrity, design and finite element analysis.

I subsequently returned to academia to undertake a PhD in fracture mechanics at Imperial College London which I completed in 2016. I was awarded an EPSRC Doctor Prize Fellowship at the University of Sheffield in the same year.

During my time in industry I worked as a lead engineer and project manager responsible for a wide variety of projects including: finite element analysis of nuclear submarine impacts using DYNA; design, manufacture and installation of linear friction welding tooling for aerospace gas turbines; fatigue and damage tolerance assessments of civil aircraft using NASTRAN and PATRAN; probabilistic fatigue crack growth and fracture assessment of wind turbine structures to BS 7910; development of an Incredibility of Failure safety justification for nuclear pressure vessel components including ASME III design assessments and R6 failure analyses.

My research and industrial experience has a huge influence on my teaching philosophy which helps me to prepare students for the challenges they will face beyond their degree.

Research interests

My research focuses on fracture mechanics aspects of structural integrity, encompassing crack growth mechanisms such as fatigue and creep, as well as brittle and ductile fracture. My research combines experimental techniques with numerical modelling and I have experience of a wide variety of finite element analysis software packages including, ABAQUS, DYNA, NASTAN and PATRAN.

I have developed improved methods of accurately measuring crack initiation and growth in ductile materials and in hostile environments. These methods, based on the electrical potential drop technique, facilitate improved material models that enable the continued safe operation of cracked structures and avoid the premature introduction of unnecessary inspection and maintenance programmes.

This provides potentially huge social, environmental and economic benefits to variety of industries, e.g. power generation. As part of an ASTM task group I am revising the standards on fracture toughness testing (E1820) and creep crack growth testing (E1457) to incorporate this research.


Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers


EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship, 2016-17, £53k (PI)

Teaching interests

My teaching interests focus on taking a programme level approach to curriculum development.  To this end I am currently developing a series of integrative projects as part of a revised 1st year for the mechanical engineering undergraduate degree programmes. 

These projects aim to provide students with a foundation of integrated knowledge, understanding, skills and capabilities which better prepares them for the complex open-ended problems they will face later in the degree and throughout their careers.

Teaching activities

My expertise and research interests are particularly suited to teaching design, solid mechanics and structural analysis (including finite element analysis).  I am currently the module leader for the following modules:

  •  AMR303 - Machine Element Design and Analysis of Failure Analysis (20 credit 3rd year module on the AMRC Mechanical Manufacture degree apprenticeship programme)
  •  AMR304 - Finite Element Analysis of Machines (20 credit 3rd year module on the AMRC Mechanical Manufacture degree apprenticeship programme)
  •  MEC307 - Group Design Project (20 credit 3rd year module on the Mechanical Engineering MEng programme)
  •  MEC445 -  Industrial Applications of Finite Element Analysis (15 credit module on the Mechanical Engineering MEng and MSc programmes)