Dr Gareth Thomson

Dr Gareth Thomson

Head of Group - Mechanical Engineering and Design

Phone number
0121 204 3608 


Room number
MB 156


I am currently the Head of Group of Mechanical Engineering + Design at Aston and also head the Mechanical Engineering family of undergraduate programmes.

I am actively involved in the development of new approaches to engineering education and am an active collaborator in the global CDIO initiative.

I joined Aston University in January 2009, having previously been the course director of the Mechanical Engineering course at the University of Dundee.

In my time at Dundee I was involved in not only the Mechanical Engineering programme but I also set up a joint Product Design degree with Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art.

Qualifications & Education 

  • BEng (hons) Mechanical Engineering, Heriot-Watt University, 1989
  • MPhil, Heriot-Watt University, 1992
  • PhD in Laser Materials Processing, University of Dundee, 1998


  • 2009 – date: Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Head of Group, Mechanical Engineering + Design, Aston University.
  • 1993 – 2008: Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering, University of Dundee, Dundee
  • 1991-1992: Research Associate – Laser Cutting Systems, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
  • 1989 – 1990: Graduate Engineer, Lucas Diesel Systems, London & Gloucester

Teaching activity 

Currently I am the course director for the Mechanical Engineering family of Undergraduate degrees. My main teaching interests are in design and smart systems technology.

I am module leader for :

ME1501 : Design & Experimentation
ME2045 : Solid Mechanics
ME2502 : Design & Engineering for Industry
ME3070 : Solid Mechanics & Finite Element Analysis

I am also involved in student project work at Undergraduate and Postgraduate level.

Research Interests

My research interest relate to both pedagogy of engineering education and also biomedical engineering.

Within engineering education I am particularly interested in active learning approaches, workspace design and innovative assessment methodologies.

I also have a strong interest in biomedical engineering. In particular I am very keen to examine human factors and safety issues within healthcare technology.

Specific areas of interest include but are not limited to :

  • Design for infection control
  • Infection treatment
  • Surgical safety - reducing risks in surgical procedures through new technology and testing methods.
  • Interactions within healthcare systems
  • Interface design
  • Medical product ergonomics
  • Smart systems design
I am also actively involved with ARCHA (Aston Research Centre in Health Ageing). I am a member of the research strand: 'Technologies supporting healthy ageing'.

I am always very keen to hear from possible PhD students interested in doing research in these areas. Please feel free to discuss possible projects.

Recent research funding

EPSRC : Suture safety and integrity equipment (EP/D003040/1)
KTP : Safety related issues in the design of offshore pumping units (KTP 348)
Photo-activated disinfection : Scottish Optoelectronics Forum (TTOM initiative)

Membership of Professional Bodies

Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for whom I also sit on their Academic Assessment Committee.

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Selected publications 

Recent Conference Papers :

Student Perceptions and Reflections In Peer Review of Group Projects
Gareth Thomson, Daniel Spooner, Nikola Chalashkanov, 11th International CDIO Conference, Chengdu University, China, June 8-11, 2015

Exploring the Form and Impact of a CDIO Implementation- A Case Study
Robin Clark, Gareth Thomson, CDIO European Regional Meeting, Reykjavik, Iceland, 5-6 February 2015

Workspace Implementation- Review and Call for Partners to Establish Best Practise
Gareth Thomson, Mark Prince, Laura Leslie, Christian McLening

Proceedings of the 10th International CDIO Conference, Universitat Politenica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, June 16-19, 2014

Design and Build of an Electrical Vehicle as a Degree Launch Activity
G Thomson, LJ Leslie, M Prince
CDIO: Engineering Leadership in Innovation and Design, Cambridge, MA USA, 9-13th June 2013

Recent Journal Papers :

An investigation into the impact of safety features on the ergonomics of surgical scalpels, X Wu, G A Thomson, B Tang, Applied Ergonomics, 40(3), 2009, pp.424-432

An investigation of leakage tracts along stressed suture lines in phantom tissue, G A Thomson, Medical Engineering & Physics, 29, (9), November 2007, Pages 1030-1034 


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