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Associate Professor, School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, Nottingham Trent University

Tom’s background is in avionics, he was a Design Engineer at Ferranti Defence Systems in Edinburgh from 1982 to 1990. Here, he worked on prime contracts on behalf of McDonnel Douglas, Northrop Grumman, British Aerospace and General Dynamics. During this time, he was sponsored through his first degree in Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University by the Scottish Engineering Training Scheme (SETS).

From 1990 to 1992, Tom worked as a SERC funded (formerly EPSRC) Research Assistant at the Engineering Design Research Centre (EDRC) at the University of Glasgow. Here, he attained an MPhil for an investigation that involved case-based research in Engineering Design Methodology.

From 1992 to 2003, Tom was a Lecturer/Senior Lecturer Computer-Aided Engineering at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield. He became Chartered Engineer (CEng) with the Engineering Council and Full-Member of the Institution on Engineering and Technology (MIET) in 1995. In addition, he became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) in 2001. Further to this, he completed his PhD (part-time) in design for assembly of surface mount electronic circuits in 2002. In this research, he developed and evaluated a decision support analytical model for designing electronic circuits for ultra-fine-pitch device assembly.

From 2003 to 2017, Tom was a Senior Lecturer at Loughborough University, he taught and undertook research in electronic product design, virtual prototyping, design education, design and manufacturing technology and physical computing. He became Full-Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (MIEEE) in 2004. In December 2017, Tom became Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). This acknowledged Tom’s sustained and effective leadership in teaching and his work in research informed teaching through Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and exploring the relationship between design and technology in education.

He has secured funding for his research and enterprise activities and his research has been widely published in the form of journal papers, book contributions, refereed proceedings, refereed conference papers and technical papers. He has supervised research students, examined PhDs and MPhils and has acted on the reviewing panel of a number of key journals and conferences. Tom has acted as external examiner and validator on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the UK and on behalf of UK universities abroad in Malaysia and Trinidad. He has successfully organised and co-ordinated all design and prototyping activities required for the annual Engineering Education Scheme (EES) workshop and worked as outreach and widening participation coordinator for Loughborough Design School.

Research areas
Tom has an international reputation as a leading figure within the fields of Design Education, Physical Computing and Electronic Product Design. With over twenty five years’ experience in research, his work has been consistently cited and returned at REF 3* and 4*quality based on his research outputs of international excellence in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

Tom’s research findings have made significant contributions and impact on the wider context of the disciplines in which he works and are frequently referenced by others. He has demonstrated research leadership as Principal-Investigator and as Co-Investigator on a number of high-value research and enterprise projects totalling over £1.1M.

Tom has supervised ten postgraduate research students to PhD, and continues to build upon his research areas by continually seeking research students and post-doctoral researchers to undertake quality research in design education, physical computing and electronic product design.

Tom has examined research degrees in design and engineering at Brunel University, Queen Mary University of London, Birmingham University, the University of Hertfordshire, University of Strathclyde and the University of East London. He has served as external overseas examiner for PhD candidates at NITT Trichy, Anna University, NITT Rourkela, Annamalai University and Vels University, India.

Tom has a number of indicators of international esteem, as below:

Invited webinar to the TRIPLL (Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life) Webinar Series: Mobile Health, Pain & Aging at Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University, NY, USA, 23rd May, 2016.
Invited keynote address at the Creativity in Design Education parallel session at Korea Digital Design Council (KODDCO) 2014 Conference, Design for Social Change: Hanyang University ERICA Campus, Ansan, Korea, September 2015.
Invited case-study contribution to Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) publications in 2015 that considered technological optimisation in the design of fluid-filled components for automotive applications.
Winner of the best paper prize at the Fourth International Conference on Web-based Education, Grindelwald, Switzerland February 2005. This paper reported on a collaborative pedagogical research project and considered open and distance learning using a virtual reality conference suite in technology education.
Visiting Professor at the Centre of Media Pedagogy, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland.
Visiting Professor of Design at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.
Conference organiser of Electronics and Interaction Design Conference 2012 at Loughborough University.
Tom regularly review journals submissions for the Journal of Composite Materials, Journal of Design Research, Journal of Manufacturing Technology and Management, Journal of Production Research.

External activity
As theme leader in Design Education Research, Tom has been active in organising and teaching annual summer schools in Problem-Based Learning with colleagues at the University of Leicester. These events were initially funded by the HEA subject centre for Physics and brought together interdisciplinary sciences, engineering and design. Here, he devised problem statements for delegates, university teaching staff new to PBL from around the world, and facilitate exercises in formulating and externalising problems. As a result of this work, he led the delivery of classes to lecturers, technical instructors and science laboratory tutors at the Universities of Iceland, Limerick, Tampere (Finland) and Lapland.

In regard to systems approaches to electronics development and teaching, Tom led the Design & Technology Teachers Summer School in July 2015 where we ran a number of parallel training sessions in designing with microcontrollers. One hundred and sixty teachers attended from across the country, and from as far as Hong Kong. The event was very well received by all those involved including staff from the D&T Association and university staff. The impact of this emphasises the application of the systems approach to technology education across the national curriculum in Design & Technology.

Tom has developed and led in the design of the curriculum and of innovative programmes in conjunction with industry. Applying innovative teaching techniques which create interest, understanding and enthusiasm amongst students mainly through the Integrated Graduate Development Studies (IGDS) programme of study with Ford Design and Research Centre Dunton.

For 15 years, Tom organised, coordinated, led, and managed all design and prototyping activities underpinning the annual three day residential Engineering Education Scheme (EES) workshop. This has demonstrated its impact and effectiveness in enhancing the learning experience of many thousands of students and of making a real and positive difference to the staff that support it. Bringing together the pedagogy of engineering; strong links with industry and employers; a wealth of connections and know-how, built up over the years.

In addition, as a subject specialist Tom has been external examiner and member of validation panels (undergraduate and postgraduate) at the Universities of Birmingham, East London, Middlesex, Sheffield Hallam, Queen Mary & Westfield, Strathclyde, Brunel and Coventry. These roles have developed on his awareness and that of others of quality assurance and enhancement, internationalisation, widening participation, student support and guidance.

Tom maintains and supports continuing professional development activities with IET, IEEE, HEA and the Engineering Council.


  • –present
    Associate Professor, School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment, Nottingham Trent University