Professor Ben Hicks

BEng(Bath), PhD(Bath)

Professor Ben Hicks

Professor Ben Hicks
Professor in Mechanical Engineering

2.43,
University Walk, Clifton
BS8 1TR
(See a map)

ben.hicks@bristol.ac.uk

Telephone Number (0117) 954 5609

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Research and Enterprise Development

Biography

Ben leads the Engineering Systems and Design institute (http://www.esdi.ac.uk) whose research activities necessitate close collaboration with industry to research, develop, implement and evaluate new tools, methods and technologies. Ben has worked closely with more than 100 organisations from the creative, design, high value manufacturing and construction sectors. Prior to joining Bristol he worked initially as a machine design consultant, entrepreneur and then academic at the Universities of Sydney and Bath. While at the University of Bath he was a founding member and later director of the (£10M) EPSRC-funded innovative manufacturing research centre. The Centre had a particular focus on machine design, design/manufacturing informatics, advanced manufacturing processes and verification.

In addition to leading the ES&D institute (20 academics and >£20M research portflio), Ben is CoDirector of the Design & Manufacturing Futures Laboratory (http://www.dmf-lab.co.uk). The lab is researching and creating the tools and technologies of tomorrow, providing game changing capability for the design, manufacture, operation and disposal of next generation products and machines. Projects include: constraint-based and topological optimisation; engineering project health monitoring; tangible interfaces and mixed media prototyping; augmented and mixed-reality; fabricative, additive and subtractive technologies; democratisation of design and manufacture; digital-physical twinning and revision control; and, manufacturing systems of the future.

Ben is the Director of the EPSRC-funded Language of Collaborative Manufacturing Programme Grant, Director of the £1.6M EPSRC project on digital-physical twinning and PI of the PhysiCAD project. 

Further to his academic roles, Ben is a Chartered Engineer and has been involved in a number of science and education startups. He presently holds non-executive roles for a design SME and charity. Ben has also worked closely with professional organisations and research councils through a variety of strategic advisory roles.

Ben’s research focuses on product, machine and manufacturing system design. His major research contributions lie in four areas:

  1. Design Tools and Methods – The creation of tools, technologies and methods to improve the process by which products and machines are designed with a particular emphasis on sectorial methods, understanding design practice, improving design management and emerging technology.
  2. Computational Design and Optimisation – The creation of computational tools to enable the modelling, reasoning and optimisation of products and machines with a particular emphasis on constraint-based, generative and deep learning approaches.
  3. Machine and Manufacturing Systems Modelling – The creation of numerical models and modelling approaches to represent the interaction between production/manufacturing machines and the materials they handle with a particular emphasis on high-value manufacturing, and packaging, processing and pharmaceutical sectors.
  4. Engineering Informatics – The creation of tools and methods to support the capture and reuse of design and manufacturing information over the lifecycle, and the subsequent application of knowledge discovery techniques to generate new understanding and insight to inform design.

Research

Ben’s research concerns tools and methods to support the design and improvement of products, machines and manufacturing systems. His research has resulted in the creation of new processes and methods for design management, methods for computer-based design and optimisation, approaches for managing manufacturing information and knowledge discovery, and techniques for modelling machine-material interaction.  

In addition to leading the ES&D group, Ben is CoDirector of the Design & Manufacturing Futures Laboratory (http://www.dmf-lab.co.uk). The lab is researching and creating the tools and technologies of tomorrow, providing game changing capability for the design, manufacture, operation and disposal of next generation products and machines. Projects include: constraint-based and topological optimisation; engineering project health monitoring; tangible interfaces and mixed media prototyping; augmented and mixed-reality; fabricative, additive and subtractive technologies; democratisation of design and manufacture; digital-physical twinning and revision control; and, manufacturing systems of the future. 

Group

Peter Bennett, Duncan Boa, Owen Freeman Gebler, James Gopsill, Mark Goudswaard, David Jones, Simon Jones, David Mathias, Hamish McAlpine, Lei Shi, Chris Snider, James Upton

Teaching

Ben has over twenty years’ experience in the teaching, accreditation and delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Engineering, Design, Manufacturing and Management. Courses include Engineering Design, CAD, Digital Design, Innovation and Advanced Design, Product Design & Development, Manufacturing Systems and Machine Design.

Fields of interest

(Research) Design Management and Methods; Design Thinking; Constraint-Based Design and Optimisation; Machine Design; Fabrication; Tangible-Interfaces and Mixed Media Prototypes; Digital-Physical Twinning; Augmented and Mixed Reality; Self-Replicating Manufacturing Machines; Democratising Design; AI in Design and Manufacture; and, (Consultancy) Lean Thinking; Manufacturing Systems Improvement/Design; Changeover Reduction; Design Management; Condition Monitoring; BIM; Virtual Prototyping; High Speed Machinery Design/Redesign.



Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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