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Dr Robert Whitfield

Senior Lecturer

Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management

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.


Enhancing supply chain resilience through risk information sharing : a triadic perspective
Ali Ibrahim Labaran, Hird Abigail, Whitfield Robert Ian
8th International Conference on Operations and Supply Chain Management, (2018)
Are social network sites the future of engineering design education?
Brisco Ross, Whitfield Robert, Grierson Hilary
20th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, (2018)
Using LSP network position to share supply chain risk information
Ibrahim Ali Labaran, Hird Abigail, Whitfield Robert Ian
British Academy of Management Conference Proceedings 2018, (2018)
Social relationships and supply chain risk information sharing
Ali Ibrahim Labaran, Hird Abigail, Whitfield Robert Ian
25th International Annual EurOMA Conference, (2018)
Modelling the relationship between design activity and computer-supported collaborative design factors
Brisco R., Whitfield R. I., Grierson H.
International Design Conference - Design 2018, pp. 193-204, (2018)
Workshop session: mapping success in collaborative engineering
Whitfield Robert, Brisco Ross
15th International Design Conference, (2018)

more publications


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.

Professional activities

ICED17, 21st International Conference on Engineering Design

more professional activities


Development of Digital Readiness Level tool
Hird, Abigail (Principal Investigator) Ion, William (Co-investigator) Whitfield, Robert (Co-investigator)
Period 27-Feb-2017 - 30-Jun-2017
Digital Manufacturing Readiness Level tool development
Hird, Abigail (Principal Investigator) Ion, William (Co-investigator) Whitfield, Robert (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Mar-2017 - 30-Jun-2017
Digital Readiness Level: diagnostic tool development
Hird, Abigail (Principal Investigator) Ion, William (Principal Investigator) Whitfield, Robert (Principal Investigator)
Period 06-Mar-2017 - 30-Jun-2017
Doctoral Training Partnership (DTA - University of Strathclyde) | Brisco, Ross
Whitfield, Robert (Principal Investigator) Grierson, Hilary (Co-investigator) Brisco, Ross (Research Co-investigator)
This project is investigating students utilisation of social network sites for conducting design activities and supporting the design process, such as, to support the reasoning and discussion required to make design decisions. Social network sites offer functionality which meets the needs of computer-supported collaborative design systems, such as, in the exchange and ideas, artefacts and documents. The ubiquity of social network sites and integration with student’s life allows them access to conduct teamwork at all times of the day and the integration of mobile devices allow them access from anywhere. Our findings show that students utilise this ability throughout their daily lives such as, utilising spare time on public transport or whilst waiting in a line in a shop to check in on team progress or contribute to a discussion. The growth of social network sites within academia and enterprise suggest that students will need to utilise the technology in the future. With this, and social network sites ability to support the design process identified in this study, there is a need to investigate the requirement for new design education pedagogies to support students learning. It is important to reason how this might be delivered and how we might encourage the use of best practices when engaging with the technology.
Period 01-Oct-2015 - 01-Apr-2019
Whitfield, Robert (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2011 - 14-Sep-2016
Whitfield, Robert (Principal Investigator) Duffy, Alexander (Co-investigator) Marshall, Pamela (Research Co-investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2012 - 01-Oct-2015

more projects


Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management
James Weir Building

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