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Glen Hougan

Rank: Associate Professor

Qualifications: BES University of Waterloo, MEDes University of Calgary

Initial NSCAD appointment: 2005

Glen Hougan is an industrial/product and service designer whose background is in the area of human factors, user experience, product development, and design thinking. His research and work in the area of design for health and ageing has been covered in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the PBS series Life Part 2, CBC's radio program Spark. He is a proponent of integrative design and advocate for design thinking in healthcare. His current research focuses around designing for dignity and ageism in design.

He is principal of Wellspan Research and Design. This design consultancy focuses on healthcare issues. Recent clients include the Mayo Clinic, Herman Miller Corp, and Carex Brands (Uplift Technologies).

Prior to coming to NSCAD in 2005, he taught Industrial and Interaction Design at Syracuse University.


Mayo Clinic's Research Fellowship in Healthcare Innovations (2012)
Center for Innovation (CFI), Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Awarded a fellowship at Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation.

Sun Life Financial Chair in Design for Health & Aging (2010)
Awarded the Sun Life Financial Chair in Design in Health and Aging. This is one of three chairs the insurance company Sun Life funds across Canada.

Presidents NSCAD Faculty Research and Creative Practice Grant (2009)
Recipient of the University’s faculty research and creative practice grant to support ongoing work in developing an empathy/ageing suit and in researching ageism.

RECENT SELECTED ACTIVITIES (presentations, workshops and papers)

2017Ideas to opportunities: design thinking in healthcare, Dubai Health Forum (DHF), Dubai Health Authority (Dubai, 2017).
The Designing for Dignity Journey - Confronting Ageism in Design | an ILN Learning Series Innovation Learning Network's Aging & Innovation 2.0 series!, Innovation Learning Network (Oakland, Ca., 2017).

Designing for dignity, with the end user in mind, Aging Today,  American Society on Aging volume xxxviii number 2  (March-April 2017).

2016Moving the Design Needle, 4th Annual Design Educators Conference, (Toronto, Ont., 2016)

Locating the D-spot: Design Thinking in Healthcare, Interprofessional Education (mini course), Dalhousie University (Halifax, N.S, 2016)

Designing for dementia: a NSCAD design class experience, Geriatric Academic Rounds, Centre for Health Care of the Elderly, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Nova Scotia Health (Halifax, N.S, 2016)

Design for an Aging Population, Silver Economy Summit, Nova Scotia Department of Seniors (New Glasgow, N.S, 2016)

2015Healthcare: what's design got to do with it? 2nd Annual Research and Innovation in Health Care Forum, Nova Scotia Health Authority (Halifax, N.S, 2015).

Design for an ageing population (guest speaker), Newell Rubbermaid Design Center, (Kalamazoo, MI., 2015).

Using design to solve healthcare problems (guest). Information Morning, CBC radio (Halifax, N.S., 2015)

Universal Design and Technology (guest). Zoomer Television (Toronto, Ont. 2015)

Designing for Dementia (lunch keynote), Shifting Focus in Dementia Care Conference, Alzheimer Society (Dartmouth, N.S, 2015).

Designing for Ability (keynote for World Disabilities Day), Federal Department of Defence (Halifax, N.S, 2015) .

Design for health: NSCAD's Design Lab for Health and Aging,  Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Center, Dalhousie University Academic Rounds (Halifax, N.S, 2015).

Designing for Dignity (keynote), Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia Research Breakfast, (Halifax, N.S, 2015).


Ageism: designs last prejudice, 19th DMI International Design Management Research Conference Proceedings (London, 2014)

Data Cave to Word Cloud: visualizing new experiences, HPCS: High Performance Computing Symposium (Halifax, N,S., 2014).

2013Senior-centered adaptations: product hacking in the home (paper), IDSA International Education Symposium (Chicago, 2013).

Redesigning healthcare: transformation through design thinking, Canadian Conference on Physician Leadership, Canadian Medical Association (Vancouver, 2013).

Healthcare Innovation: Mayo’s Healthy Aging and Independent Living (HAIL) initiative, Geriatric Academic Rounds, Capital Health  (Halifax, N.S., 2013).

2012Senior Centre Adaptations: the assistive environment, Robert and Arlene Kogad Lecture Series, Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN., 2012).

Health care by design – innovation through design thinking, National Health Leadership Conference (Halifax, 2012).

Design Narratives, Ageing Connects, 11th Global Conference on Ageing, (Prague, 2012)

Impact of image: designers and ageism, (paper) IDSA International Education Symposium (New Orleans, 2011).

See Academia U for a complete list of papers/workshops presentations.




Recipient of the Nova Scotia Business Development / Innovacorp Productivity and Innovation Voucher award of Tier 2 ($25 000) to do user evaluation and testing (2016-17)

Co- lead (design) of IDEA ($450 000) with Dalhousie University's engineering, business. This 3 year funding from Nova Scotia Business, Labour and Advanced Education and Dalhousie Engineering is to develop industrial design, engineering and business product development capacity (2014 - 2017).

Recent Principal Investigator of the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR): Innovation Enhancement Grant ($200 000) to do research and product development around design for an aging population (2014-16).

Recipient of the Nova Scotia Business Development / Innovacorp Productivity and Innovation Voucheraward of Tier 1 ($15 000) to do medical product industrial design (2015-16)

Co-investigator in a Development Innovative Grant, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation ($15 000) to develop interactive gaming to help improve language after a stroke - aphasia. (2015-16).

Co-investigator in a Development Innovative Grant, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation ($15 000) to develop a visual scale for assessing frailty (2013).

Recipient of Mayo Clinics Center of Innovation (CFI) funding, to look at assistive environments (2012).

Recipient of the Nova Scotia Economic and Rural development’s Productivity and Innovation Voucher award of Tier 1 ($15 000) to do human factor research on interactive television (2012), develop healthcare devices (2009), and Tier 2 ($25 000) to develop new home care products (2011).

Recipient of the Sun Life Chair of Design in Health and Aging. Sun Life Financial awarded $100 000 to NSCAD to support my research into design for an aging population (2010).

Co-recipient of a SSHRC grant ($48 000) to design community based educational aides for a community-based watershed-monitoring program (2009).