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Engineering Design Centre

Melanie Smith


Melanie Smith

Melanie Smith

Research Assistant

Research group: Inclusive Design Group
Telephone: 01223 748578

Photo of Melanie Smith


  • BA (Hons) Fine Art, University College for the Creative Arts, Canterbury
  • PGCE Design & Technology, University of Cambridge


Melanie's primary interests are within creativity and disrupting the status quo, finding credible innovative solutions to growing problems in a complex world.


Melanie's involvement with the Designing our Tomorrow (DOT) educational initiative allows her to explore and facilitate what it means to equip students with effective "thinking tools" to be successful problem solvers in an ever-changing world. Through a holistic but systematic approach, DOT challenges students' assumptions to promote the generation of new and novel solutions to authentic challenges we face within society.


Melanie is looking to challenge and improve educational frameworks whilst raising the profile of creativity, design & technology within schools to engage students in a rich and rewarding creative education to have maximum success long term beyond the classroom.


A notable research project for Melanie to date has been exploring and implementing methods of enhancing visual literacy through the use of metaphors and juxtaposition in design. A high level, challenging project explored how students engaged with and are critical of the world around them, to be able to challenge assumptions and understand why new and novel solutions are important. Students were encouraged to articulate what they saw as opposed to simply stating what they were looking at.


Melanie is currently working to drive focus on technological advancements relative to everyday life. This enables students to spot and solve problems using a sensor and a micro:bit. This project allows students to not only become effective problem spotters and solvers, being creative in their approach, but also to understand how to explain logic to a computer. Students quickly realise how significant language is when communicating and engineering a process that will not be directly undertaken by a human.


Melanie joined the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Cambridge in 2017 following successful completion of her PGCE in Design & Technology and being awarded the prestigious Charles Fox Prize, at the Faculty of Education.


Prior to Cambridge, Melanie worked in industry for 8 years as a Project Manager & Designer within Interior Design and Architecture and as a conceptual commercial artist on graduating from art school, in 2008.


She has strong interests in the gender disparity within today's society and is the Founder and former President of the Feminism Society at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge.