Professor of Interdisciplinary Design, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge
Dr Alan Blackwell is a Professor in the Computer Laboratory, Director of the Crucible network for research in interdisciplinary design and co-Director of Research for the University of Cambridge Global Challenges Initiative.
Crucible is a research network within and around the University of Cambridge. Its purpose is to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration of technologists with researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AH&SS). The main focus of this collaboration is on design as a meeting point for widely differing research disciplines. Crucible activities include the establishment of new research programmes, training of researchers, input to policy bodies, and identification of suitable funding sources for research in interdisciplinary design. Crucible provides both a scientific and organisational framework for this research.
Alan is also co-Director of Research for the University of Cambridge Global Challenges Initiative, the Cambridge Strategic Research Initiative for the Sustainable Development Goals.
Alan has a long-standing mission to make meaningful contributions to the lives of the world’s poorest 3 billion people through the design of new technologies, including software that is directly programmable and customizable by end-users, and making IT accessible to those with a wide range of social backgrounds and abilities. Alan’s concerns for global equality were acquired with the egalitarian traditions of his native New Zealand, as a result of which he has often collaborated with technology-focused Cambridge NGOs such as Aptivate and Africa’s Voices Foundation. His motivation to contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals through the participation in the Global Challenges Forum is also shown by his previous role as Director of the EPSRC Ideas Factory "Bridging the Global Digital Divides”, and by the active publishing of research investigations of modern technology infrastructure in the light of universal human rights.
Alan has qualifications in professional engineering, computing and experimental psychology. He has 15 years experience of designing industrial systems, electronic and software products. He has taught design courses and supervised postgraduate design research students in Computing, Architecture, Psychology, Languages, Music, Fine Art and Engineering. He works regularly with social scientists and policy researchers, as well as on the design of next generation digital technologies.