Professor Leifer's engineering design thinking research is focused on instrumenting design teams to understand, support, and improve design practice and theory. Specific issues include: design-team research methodology, global team dynamics, innovation leadership, interaction design, design-for-wellbeing, and adaptive mechatronic systems.
Leifer has taught the award-winning Stanford ME310 class for over 20 years and continues to redesign the course ever year with new methodologies and technologies. Once a design student himself at Stanford University, he has started many design initiatives at Stanford, including the Smart-Product Design Program, Stanford-VA Rehabilitation Engineering Center, Stanford Learning Laboratory, and the Center for Design Research. A member of the Stanford faculty since 1976, his research themes include:
- Creating collaborative engineering environments for distributed product innovation teams
- Instrumentating that environment for design knowledge capture, indexing, reuse, and performance assessment
- Design-for-well-being, socially responsible and sustainable engineering