Browse/search for people

Professor Ben Hicks


Ben leads the Engineering Systems and Design group 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 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 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 ( 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.