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School of Computing Science and Engineering

Professor David Howard

Professor of Biomedical Engineering


I am a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and have been a key figure in the Centre for Health Sciences Research since its creation in 2000 (previously the Centre for Rehabilitation and Human Performance Research). My work is inter-disciplinary and I have led successful international research with Health Faculty colleagues. Since 2001 I have worked with Professor Chris Nester on foot biomechanics, tackling both experimental and modelling challenges, with collaborators in the USA, Sweden, Switzerland, and China. With Dr Laurence Kenney I lead the Centre’s work on the functional electrical stimulation (FES) of muscles for those with partial paralysis following neurological damage after, for example, a stroke. My research also includes work on prosthetics for upper and lower limb amputees, in close collaboration with Dr Martin Twiste and Dr Kenney.  I also work closely with colleagues in the School of Computing, Science and Engineering who have biomedical research interests.

I began my career as an Engineering Apprentice with Hawker Siddeley Aviation and then with Lawrence, Scott and Electromotors, who later sponsored my undergraduate studies. I graduated in 1980 with first class honours in Mechanical and Production Engineering from Brunel University. After graduating, I worked as a Control Engineer with ICI Plastics, and then as a Research Officer at the University of Bath, developing control systems for advanced Diesel engines, and completing my PhD in 1987.  I then worked as a Systems and Control Engineer with the Water Research Centre, undertaking research on the automatic control and management of water distribution networks. In 1989, I moved to an academic appointment at the University of Salford and, up until the mid 1990s, my research interests were in the areas of robotics, theoretical mechanics and design. However, since then, I have focused on Biomedical Engineering and Biomechanics as described above.


  • Dynamics
  • Control and Automation
  • Robotics
  • Design

Research Interests

  • Functional electrical stimulation (FES) of muscles for those with partial paralysis
  • Prosthetics for upper-limb and lower-limb amputees
  • Biomechanics of the foot and lower limb
  • Computational modelling of neuro-musculo-skeletal systems
  • Gait simulation in the design of assistive devices (e.g. prostheses)
  • Real-world monitoring of patients using assistive devices

Qualifications and Memberships

BSc Mechanical and Production Engineering, 1st class honours, Brunel University.

PhD Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath, “The Design of Control Systems for Diesel Engines”.

Chartered Engineer, Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.


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