Matthew Parkinson named interim director of The Learning Factory


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Matthew Parkinson, professor of engineering design and mechanical engineering, has been named director of the Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory.

He has served as interim director of the Learning Factory, in the College of Engineering, since August 2016 and will assume the role of director on July 1.

“Matt brings an enthusiasm about design and student engagement that is hard to match,” said Peter Butler, associate dean for education in the College of Engineering. “Since taking over the Learning Factory as interim director, he has transformed it into a dynamic, highly technical maker space for the college, and he oversaw the largest design showcase to date. As director, Matt’s commitment to innovation and connections with some of the best design programs in the world will help us reach our goal of offering hands-on, experiential learning in all years, from the cornerstone design courses in the first year, to the capstone courses in the last year.”

Parkinson said the Learning Factory has a strong legacy of innovation and he looks forward to continuing that tradition.

“The Learning Factory is a remarkable effort, supported by committed faculty, eager students and engaged industry partners,” he said. “I love being part of a team working so hard towards a common goal: providing Penn State students with the best education opportunities possible. We have many exciting things in our future.”

A member of Penn State’s engineering faculty since 2005, Parkinson has taught numerous undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.

In April 2017, he received the Penn State Alumni Association Alumni/Student Award for Excellence in Teaching and was named a Penn State Teaching Fellow. His teaching efforts have also been recognized with Penn State Engineering Alumni Society Outstanding Teaching and Premier Teaching awards in 2009 and 2015, respectively.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International has also honored Parkinson 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's 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.

He received an NSF CAREER Award in 2008 for his project, “Foundation of Designing for Human Variability.”

He 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 a hands-on facility for engineering students to use in conjunction with capstone design and other courses, as well as research projects and student organizations. The Learning Factory provides modern design, prototyping and manufacturing facilities, including machining (CNC and manual), 3D printing, welding, metrology and CAD/CAM.


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