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Personal profile

Personal Statement

Dr Robert Ian Whitfield's research interests include: design co-ordination, collaborative design, integration, resource management, process modelling and optimisation, product data and product lifecycle management, engineering risk management, and modular design. These research interests come under the general umbrella of Systems Engineering. He has developed a number of different tools and techniques relating to these research areas that have been used by industry including:

  • a modular design tool that models different types of interactions between components or systems of a product which can then be used to optimise the product structure providing a      hierarchical structure that can facilitate assembly (implemented within complex system development industries);
  • a design process optimisation tool that models the flow of information within engineering design processes which can then be used for business process re-engineering to reduce rework and management concurrency (used within defence industries);
  • a collaborative design environment that integrates product information, design and analysis tools, and expertise and supports distributed collaborative design, version management, product data management, consistency management, and optimisation (used within shipbuilding      industries);
  • resource management and optimisation tools and techniques that improve decision making within resource constrained, multi-project environments; and (used within New Product Development industries),
  • an approach to support organisational decision making within large complex engineering design programmes which manages the entire decision process from inception through to reuse (used within defence industries).

He has published this research within over 60 peer-reviewed articles. He has been involved with both the proposal writing, management and conducting of research within a number of large FP5, FP6 and FP7 integrated projects within the shipbuilding industry – typically with between 30 and 50 partners, and has garnered significant knowledge in how to achieve collaboration between a large number of partners for successful project completion. These projects have each focussed upon the development of collaborative tools and techniques for the integration of distributed design expertise across Europe.

Teaching Interests

Dr Robert Ian Whitfield is passionate about delivering a high quality learning experience within all of the classes that he delivers using material that is designed, developed and delivered to a very high standard. He is class registrar and lecturer for the following classes:

  • DM103 Technology Concepts - introduces students to a wide range of electrical and mechanical concepts, which forms the foundation for future learning. Dr Whitfield specifically focusses upon the mechanics aspects of statics, dynamics, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics.
  • DM200 Design 2 - concentrates on techniques appropriate to different phases of the design process including user centred design research, conceptual, embodiment and detailed design.
  • DM206 Sports Engineering - allows students to understand both the basic principles of fluid mechanics and materials choice, and apply this knowledge to the design and evaluation of the performance of athletes and their equipment.
  • DM933 Engineering Risk Management - introduces and applies the principles of engineering risk management such as risk management processes, reliability, ALARP, FMEA, HAZOP, fault and event trees, robust design and decision making.

All classes have been designed focussing upon achieving a high quality student experience and
learning. The feedback from students has receives is reflective of this experience, for example: 97-100% strongly/agreeing communication was clear and effective, 94-100% strongly/agreeing teaching was well prepared and organised. A number of aspects of his teaching are used as departmental good practice.

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Projects 2008 2020

Digital Readiness Level: diagnostic tool development

Hird, A., Ion, W. & Whitfield, I.


Project: Research - Internally Allocated

Digital Manufacturing Readiness Level tool development

Hird, A., Ion, W. & Whitfield, I.


Project: Internally funded project

Research Output 1998 2019

Conceptual design
Systems engineering
Cooling systems
Open Access
Text processing


An approach for the development and implementation of systems in complex business contexts through methodology tailoring

Author: Johnson, S. M., 1 Oct 2012

Supervisor: Whitfield, R. (Supervisor) & Duffy, A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Generic models of technical systems sustainability

Author: Hay, L., 1 Oct 2014

Supervisor: Duffy, A. (Supervisor) & Whitfield, R. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Member, Design Society

Ian Whitfield (Recipient), 2007

Prize: Election to learned society

Member, Institution of Engineering Designers

Ian Whitfield (Recipient), 2003

Prize: Election to learned society

Activities 2008 2020

21st International Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education

Ian Whitfield (Chair)
13 Sep 2020

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

9th International Conference on Design Computing and Cognition 2020 (Event)

Ian Whitfield (Advisor)
29 Jun 20201 Jul 2020

Activity: Membership typesMembership of committee


Improved efficiency and design practice in European maritime industry

Ian Whitfield (Participant), Alex Duffy (Participant), Zhichao Wu (Participant), Dracos Vassalos (Participant)

Impact: Impact - for External PortalEconomic and commerce, Professional practice, training and standards