Department of Engineering / Profiles / Prof. John Clarkson

Department of Engineering

Prof. John Clarkson FREng


John Clarkson

Professor of Engineering Design

Academic Division: Mechanics, Materials and Design

Research group: Engineering Design (Head of Group)

Telephone: +44 1223 7 48246


Personal website


Research interests

John Clarkson’s research interests are in the general area of engineering design, particularly the development of design methodologies to address specific design issues, for example, process management, change management, healthcare design and inclusive design. As well as publishing over 800 papers, he has written and edited a number of books on medical equipment design, inclusive design and process management. John is Director of the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre (EDC) and Co-director of Cambridge Public Health.

Strategic themes

Manufacturing, design and materials

The Inclusive Design Group within the EDC seeks to develop and deliver approaches to design that result in more inclusive and profitable products and services. Despite the obvious sense in designing accessible products, it is well known that too many products are targeted at young able-bodied users, and are neither accessible nor desirable to the older user and, in practice, able-bodied users often find them difficult or frustrating to use.


The Healthcare Design group in the EDC seeks to embed a systems engineering culture in the UK Health Service and its suppliers. Specific aims for the group are to improve patient safety by: becoming a focus of patient safety research in the UK; developing models of good design practice for healthcare practitioners, providers and suppliers; and embedding such good practice in the UK Health Service and its suppliers. Prof Clarkson is the Deputy Chair of the Public Health @ Cambridge strategic network which was launched in 2013 and involves all six schools of the University.

Complex, resilient and intelligent systems

The Process Management and Change Management Groups within the EDC seek to develop approaches to reduce uncertainty and risk in design processes. Current research includes: business process modelling with BT; design process modelling with Rolls-Royce; process data mining with Jaguar Land Rover; design process capture; and change prediction modelling in complex systems.

Teaching activity

John has been involved in the teaching of design at all levels of the undergraduate course and currently teaches 4C5 - Design Case Studies.

Other positions

Director, Cambridge Engineering Design Centre


John returned to the Department in 1995 following a seven-year spell with PA Consulting Group's Technology Division where he was Manager of the Advanced Process Group. He was appointed director of the Engineering Design Centre in 1997 and a University Professor in 2004.