Faculty Directory
Greg Holderfield

Pentair - D. Eugene and Bonnie L. Nugent Clinical Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Director of the Segal Design Institute

Co-Director of the MMM Program


Ford Motor Company Engineering and Design Center
2133 Sheridan Road, 3.337
Evanston, IL 60208

847-491-2987Email Greg Holderfield


Segal Design Institute


Mechanical Engineering


Master of Science in Product Design and Development Management Program

MMM Program

Download CV


BFA in Industrial Design, University of Illinois

MS in Product Development, Northwestern University

PhD, Design, Coventry University, Coventry, UK

Research Interests

Holderfield believes that design innovation — which is essentially a human centered approach to problem solving that is universally applicable to any area of the human experience —is a unique blend of design thinking, computational thinking, maker culture, creativity, and business.

Holderfield further claims that design innovation, is best learned through highly interactive and contextually engaging experiences, that enable and empower students to understand the actual problem behind the perceived problem. It starts with putting students directly in the context of the problem space, where they understand stakeholder needs first-hand. This deep understanding allows them to gain empathy, which ultimately frames the opportunity in a way that is meaningful to people. These opportunity frameworks inform the generation of conceptual ideas, which are then prototyped and tested, and iterated upon through the use of constructive feedback loops. Lastly, students build outcomes that are not only original but desirable, feasible and viable.

Ultimately, design innovation is deeply personal, interactive, and iterative. A student's ability to learn comes about through a deep and rigorous immersion that is facilitated through project-based experiences, rather than theoretical simulations.

Holderfield's role as a faculty member at Northwestern University is to create the best conditions for learning design innovation, which his research has shown to be based upon a studio culture that supports true multi-disciplinary collaboration, the sharing of ideas, constructive critique, curiosity, creative expression and making. Additionally, he is a hands-on teacher who leverages his years of professional practice to authentically inspire and challenge my students to go deeper in their own work, by pushing boundaries, asking tough questions and ultimately discovering and developing meaningful solutions that inspire.

Significant Recognition

  • Four “Intentional Design Excellence Awards” (IDEA), Business Week and the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA), including the "Gold" for Industrial Equipment Design
  • Two German “Red Dot” awards
  • Japan "Good Design" award
  • IF International Design Forum award

Significant Professional Service

  • Vice President of Design and Strategy at ARC Worldwide - Leo Burnett
  • Director of Strategic Design Innovation at HLB
  • Global Design Jury for the International Design Excellence Awards


Professor Holderfield also holds 21 design and utility patents.