In Memoriam: Dr Rob Bracewell
26th March 1962 – 2nd May 2023
We are very sorry to report the sudden death, on 2nd May 2023, of Dr Rob Bracewell, a long-standing and distinguished member of the design research community who spent many years as a researcher at the University of Cambridge, and before that at Lancaster University, working on software tools to aid design teams in problem generation and selection and in design knowledge management.
Rob’s engineering career started in undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge before joining Lancaster University in 1983 to work on wave energy converters, during which time he also worked on the Schemebuilder conceptual design tool. From Lancaster in 1997 he joined the Rolls-Royce/BAE SYSTEMS University Technology Partnership for Design at the University of Cambridge, where he worked on tools for knowledge management and the capture of design rationale, in particular through a very fruitful collaboration with Professor Ken Wallace and the Design Systems Engineering Group of Rolls-Royce plc. This work led to the acclaimed Design Rationale editor (DRed) software which became an important part of Rolls-Royce’s company engineering tool-set.
During his time at Cambridge, Rob was a Fellow and Director of Studies at Churchill College, motivating and supporting many engineering undergraduate students with their studies. He also contributed to the development of Imperial College London's free and open source designVUE tool and undertook a period as a visiting researcher with NASA Ames Research Centre. In 2013 Rob joined Rolls-Royce as a Design Systems Specialist.
Sadly, the onset of Parkinson's Disease forced Rob’s ill-health retirement in 2014. He loved hiking, climbing and cycling, and his colleagues will remember not only his research and his kindness but also his faithful, and very well-travelled, folding bike - a regular travel item taken to many conferences around the world.