Exploring the Use of Computational Techniques to Support Creativity in Design Engineering


Background: Creativity plays a significant role in design engineering. Design engineers need to possess highly creative thinking skills comparing with many other disciplines. One of the main challenges for designers is to produce and select creative ideas for new product design and development. This ability to generate and select creative ideas that are novel, useful and surprising is often known as design creativity. It is an integral part of design, which supports problem-solving, initiates innovation, and closely relates to business commercial performance. With the latest development of advanced computational techniques, such as artificial intelligence and data mining, there is an opportunity to explore the use of these techniques to support creativity in design engineering.

Aim and Scope: The overall research aim of this doctoral research project is to create a new computational tool that can leverage designers’ creativity, by employing advanced computational techniques such as artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and data mining. Such a tool should assist novice designers and experienced designers in generating as well as selecting creative ideas for new product design and development. You will need to investigate the characteristics of creative thinking in the process of producing and evaluating new ideas; study theories of creativity, cognitions of creativity, and how the human mind and memory work. You will then need to investigate how to apply computational techniques to support designers in idea generation and evaluation. The tool created will be evaluated through a series of case studies.

Research Environment: You will work within a vibrant and rapidly growing community of researchers in the Systems Realization Laboratory in the School of Engineering at the University of Liverpool. The creativity and innovation team in the lab has years of experience in leveraging understanding about the fundamentals of creativity and applying this within computational tools that augment and enhance innate human creativity, ultimately leading to innovation. The team has strong links with top institutions in design engineering, such as Imperial College London, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Zhejiang University, and Singapore University of Technology and Design. It means you will have the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from these institutions.

Required Skills: We are seeking candidates with a minimum of 2:1 (or equivalent) first degree in Design, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science & IT or a related subject. Experience in coding with Python or JavaScript is preferred. Knowledge of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing are preferred. Good team-working and communication skills are essential.

How to Apply: Please apply through the University of Liverpool’s online system for a PhD in Engineering (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/how-to-apply/) with a full Curriculum Vitae, covering letter, research proposals, and contact details for at least two academic references. We will only consider serious candidates who are applying for a full-time postgraduate position after conducting an online interview.

For any enquires please contact: Dr Ji Han (ji.han@liverpool.ac.uk)


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Self-funded project

This is a self-funded project opens to students worldwide. All fees and living expenses need to be covered by the candidate or provided through government of industry sponsorship if applicable. For Chinese nationals, there is an opportunity to apply for the University of Liverpool and China Scholarship Council Awards. Full supports will be provided for successful applicants.