Prof David Howard

School of Science, Engineering & Environment

Photo of Prof David Howard


I am a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and have been a research lead in the engineering aspects of Human Movement and Rehabilitation for over 20 years. My work is inter-disciplinary and I have led successful international research with colleagues in the School of Health & Society. With Prof Laurence Kenney, I lead 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 both upper-limb and lower-limb amputees, in close collaboration with Dr John Head, Dr Martin Twiste and Prof Kenney. I also work closely with Dr Sibylle Thies and Prof Kenney on the biomechanics of walking aids.

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.

Areas of Research

1. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) of muscles for those with partial paralysis.
2. Prosthetics for upper-limb and lower-limb amputees.
3. The biomechanics of walking aids.
4. Biomechanics of the foot and lower limb.
5. Computational modelling of neuro-musculo-skeletal systems.
6. Gait simulation in the design of assistive devices (e.g. prostheses).
7. Real-world monitoring of patients using assistive devices.


Control and Automation

Qualifications and Recognitions

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

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