Clifton Johnston

Clifton Johnston

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Dalhousie University

Chair title

NSERC Chair in Design Engineering

Chair program

Chairs in Design Engineering Program


Chairholder since 2011


The NSERC Chair in Design Engineering, which builds on the success of the first Chair in Design Engineering held by Dr. Peter Gregson from 2001 to 2006, is focused on developing a design continuum in Faculty of Engineering. The ultimate goal of the design continuum is to have engineering design at the core of the engineering curriculum, driving just-in-time learning of analytical engineering skills. This goal is being developed through incremental improvements to the curriculum starting with an increase in the real design content of traditional analytic courses and with the creation of a project-based course in all years of study. From here, the implementation of a program project, a project starting in the cornerstone design course and continuing up to the capstone design course, can be undertaken. These initiatives will result in a design continuum at Dalhousie University. Additionally, a plan is in place to develop a new graduate program in design through collaboration between Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Engineering, the Rowe School of Business, and the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design NSCAD University’s Division of Design.

The Chair created an Engineers in Residence (EiR) program, where practicing engineers spend one day per week at the University working with students to provide a real-world perspective on their design challenges. There are currently six engineers in the EiR program working with students and with the Faculty of Engineering.

The Chair is also developing initiatives related to engineering education and scholarships in the areas of design theory, methods and tools, teaching and assessment of design, design of biomedical devices, and design for sport. These activities are organized with industry partners when possible.

The Chair also engages with the public and industry in many different ways. The Chair continues to sponsor Robots EAST, a robotics competition for high schools in Atlantic Canada and also started the EXPLORE Engineering Design summer camp, which allows young women in high school to learn more about careers in engineering. With the support of industry contacts, the Chair has developed more that 50% of the capstone design projects. Last year, the Chair was involved with more than 40 companies in the Maritimes. A substantial portion of the Chair’s funding comes from industry.


  • Shell Canada Ltd.
  • DRS Pivotal Power
  • Neocon International
  • Seaforth Energy
  • Michelin North America/Michelin Amérique du Nord (Canada)
  • Irving
  • Nova Scotia Fisherman
  • Ultra Electronics Maritime Systems
  • K + S Windsor Salt

Contact information

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Dalhousie University
5269 Morris Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3H 4R2

Tel.: 902-494-8985
Fax: 902-423-6711


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