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.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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