• School of Engineering and Applied Science, Aston University

      B4 7ET Birmingham

      United Kingdom

    Accepting PhD Students

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    Personal profile

    Research Interests

    My research interest is in developing tools and approaches to improve the design of products distributed in low income countries. I have worked on a number of projects funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund which utilise design methods and new technology to improve the livelihood of those living on less than $1 a day. I also have an interest in supporting creative design practice by blending physical design outputs with digital experiences.


    • 2017 to Present –  Aston University: Lecturer in Product Design
    • 2015 to 2017     –  De Montfort University: Lecturer in Digital Product Design
    • 2011 to 2015     –  Loughborough University: PhD Studentship
    • 2010 to 2013     –  Pure Water Technology: Director, Product Developer
    • 2010 to 2011     –  Centre for Vision in the Developing World: Industrial Designer
    • 2008 to 2009     –  The Technology Partnership: Industrial Designer


    • 2015 – PhD Enhancing New Product Development in Low Income Economies. Loughborough University, UK
    • 2010 – BA (Hons) Industrial Design and Technology with first class honours. Loughborough University, UK


    • 2018     International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) - Thinking Materials: Finalist
    • 2013     DesRes: Best Research Presentation
    • 2013     Lloyds Young Enterprise: Runner Up, Highly Commended
    • 2011     INDEX Design to Improve Life Award - Pure Water Bottle: Finalist, Highly Commended
    • 2011     Core77 Design Award - Pure Water Bottle: Finalist, Highly Commended
    • 2011     International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) - Pure Water Bottle: Sliver
    • 2010     James Dyson Award - Pure Water Bottle: UK Winner

    Membership of Professional Bodies

    • Member of Institute of Engineering Designers
    • Member of the Design Research Society
    • Member of the Royal Society of Arts

    PhD Supervision

    • Hikima Jewu. Title: Impact of design on products for Low Income Economies 

    Funding Applications and Awards

    • 2020 – Principal Investigator. Title: Circular Plastic: Utilising frontier technology and user-centred design to add value to plastic waste, facilitating entrepreneurship. EPSRC - GCRF.£150,000
    • 2020 – Co-Investigator. Title: Digital Innovations for Transitioning to a Circular plastic Economy - (DITCh Plastic). EPSRC - GCRF.£148,738
    • 2018 – Principal Investigator. Title; Circular Digital Manufacturing: A toolkit to disseminate a circular economy approach to 3D Printing with plastic waste in Kenya and surrounding African countries. Funded by GCRF Institutional Block Grant. £42,333
    • 2018 – Co-Investigator. Title: Wealth from Waste: Value-added products for Chennai waste pickers. Funded by Royal Academy of Engineers GCRF Frontiers Scheme 4. £30,000
    • 2018 - Co-Investigator. Title; Raising awareness of inclusive crafts: building capacity and self-sufficiency of communication within the Charity SAFOD and the Countries of SA. Funded by AHRC GCRF Follow-on Funding. £71,244
    • 2017 – Principal Investigator. Title; Building 3D printing capacity in Kenya: Utilising a co-design approach to create essential products. Funded by Royal Academy of Engineers GCRF Frontiers Scheme 3. £20,000
    • 2017 – Principal Investigator. Title; User-centred cookstove design in urban areas of Mozambique and Malawi. Funded by Royal Academy of Engineers GCRF Frontiers Scheme 3. £20,000
    • 2017 - Co-Investigator. Title; Expression of heritage and culture through inclusive arts and crafts design: empowering people with disability to contribute to their community in Southern Africa. Funded by AHRC GCRF Network Award. £54,939
    • 2016 – Co-Investigator. Title: Design futures: Exploring internationally comparative product design methods to meet the material need, facilitate entrepreneurship and create employment. Funded by AHRC GCRF Network Award. £57,395
    • 2016 – Co-Investigator. Title: Bottle House- A multi-disciplinary approach in co-creating an affordable, Self-sufficient home in Nigeria. Funded by Research Investment Fund. £23,500

    Teaching Activity

    Programme Director:

    • BSc Product Design

    Module Leadership: 

    • Design Fundamentals                       
    • Industrial Design
    • Advanced Industrial Design
    • Digital Design Skills
    • Final Year Design Project

    External Connections and Partnerships

    Invited Guest Speaker

    • 2018 – Eduardo Mondale University, Mozambique. Title: Industrial Design: Perspective from the UK
    • 2018 – Clean Cook Stove Alliance. Title: Findings from the field – Clean cooking in Mozambique
    • 2017 – Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia. Title: Thinking Materials  
    • 2017 – Middle Eastern Technical University (METU), Turkey. Title: Thinking Materials 

    Contact Details

    Phone number: 0121 204 4663
    Email: t.whitehead@aston.ac.uk 
    Room number: MB153E

    PhD Supervision

    Open to PhD applicants in areas of Design for International Development, Industrial Design & Design Practice 

    Education/Academic qualification

    PhD, Loughborough University

    Award Date: 1 Jul 2015


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