Matthew Parkinson named interim director of The Learning Factory


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Matthew Parkinson, associate professor of engineering design, has been appointed interim director of the Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory.

He agreed to serve in the role following the announcement that Maggie Slattery, who had been director of the facility since January 1, 2016, was named interim director and assistant dean of Penn State's Office for General Education. 

"Matt brings to the director position, a wealth of experience in design for human variability, and a long commitment to working with students engaged in capstone design projects. With his experience in integrating research, innovation and a dedication to student learning, Matt will be a strong leader who can help the Learning Factory reach new levels of impact," said Peter Butler, associate dean for education in the College of Engineering.

Parkinson said faculty, staff, students and friends from industry have made the Learning Factory one of the most dynamic and engaging places on campus. 

"I hope to continue this work, expanding the resources and opportunity that await our students and partners there," he said.

A member of Penn State's engineering faculty since 2005, Parkinson has taught courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels and has been recognized for his efforts with Penn State Engineering Alumni Society Outstanding Teaching and Premier Teaching Awards in 2009 and 2015, respectively. 

His research focuses on design for human variability, which combines aspects of biomechanics, optimization, ergonomics, statistics, and other disciplines to produce artifacts, tasks, and environments that are robust to the variability in their users. 

In 2009, Parkinson received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for his project, "Foundations of Designing for Human Variability."

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International has also honored him with multiple awards, including the Arch T. Colwell Merit Award for outstanding paper in mobility engineering, the Excellence in Oral Presentation Award at the SAE Digital Human Modeling for Design and Engineering Conference, the Lloyd L. Withrow Distinguished Speaker Award and the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award.

Parkinson holds a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering and a master's degree in industrial and operations from the University of Michigan, and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University.

The Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory is as much a concept as it is a physical space on the University Park campus. For 21 years, it has connected industry with student capstone design projects in a number of engineering majors and has provided students with a way to have real-world hands-on experience in applying their engineering training. 

According to Butler, a national search for a new Learning Factory director will begin in spring 2017.


Share this story:

facebook linked in twitter email


Stefanie Tomlinson



Our mission is to help bring the real-world into the classroom by providing engineering students with practical hands-on experience through industry-sponsored and client-based capstone design projects. Since its inception, the Learning Factory has completed more than 1,800 projects for more than 500 different sponsors, and nearly 9,000 engineering students at Penn State University Park participated in such a project.

The Learning Factory

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802