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Dr Robert Chien-Chung Chen

Job: Principal Lecturer, Deputy Head of Faculty International Activities

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Design

Research group(s): Design and New Product Development

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 257 7565




Personal profile

Before joining De Montfort University, Robert worked as Associate Professor at two Universities (National Yunlin University of Science/Technology and National Cheng-Kung University) and was the Deputy General Manager at State Research Institute (Recreation and Footwear Design Research Institute) in Taiwan.
Robert is now the Principal Lecturer of Industrial Design and Orthopaedic Footwear Technology, Course Leader of MA/MSc Design Innovation Programme, Deputy Head of Faculty International Activities, and the Group Leader of the User-Centred Design Research Studio in the School of Design.
As senior PhD research student supervisor, Robert has successfully supervised 18 research students and is an external examiner for MA/MSc programmes and PhD viva voce at various universities in the UK. He is also a reviewer for a number of International Journals and Conferences. He is the author of three books for the China Productivity Centre (Taiwan); the editor of 2004 and 2005 Design and Manufacture Seminar proceedings for De Montfort University; more than 200 refereed research papers; and is a frequent Keynote speaker and Chair of the Conference/Seminars in Europe, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
In addition to English, Robert speaks Taiwanese, Mandarin, and Japanese.

Publications and outputs 

  • Diabetic footwear: materials choices and design.
    Diabetic footwear: materials choices and design. Tagang, Jerry; Chen, Robert Chien-Chung; Pei, Eujin
  • Determination of Comfort and Performance Properties of Upper Materials for Diabetic Footwear Construction
    Determination of Comfort and Performance Properties of Upper Materials for Diabetic Footwear Construction Chen, Robert Chien-Chung; Eujin Pei; Higgett, N.; Tagang, Jerry This work investigates comfort and performance properties of selected shoe upper materials manufactured in Nigeria for their suitability for diabetic footwear construction. The research was carried out using approved methods of analysis as specified by the International Union of the Society of Leather Technologies and Chemists Official Methods for Physical Analysis (1996). Key parameters studied include thickness, water vapour permeability, tensile strength etc, with recorded values of up to 2.23mm, 25.33mg/cm2/h and 23N/mm2 respectively. The results obtained were found to be similar to the findings of previous studies and in conformity to set standards. The results highlighted that diabetic footwear made with selected upper leathers could improve foot health of the diabetic foot. The paper also highlights the need for further research using composite materials for the manufacture of the upper parts and lining, soling materials and insoles so as to provide the best combination of material and comfort needs to improve the quality of life of people suffering from diabetes.
  • The role of appropriate footwear in the management of diabetic foot: Perspective of clinicians in a low resource setting
    The role of appropriate footwear in the management of diabetic foot: Perspective of clinicians in a low resource setting Pei, Eujin; Chen, Robert Chien-Chung; Higgett, N.; Abdulrasheed, I.; Tagang, I. J; Ismail, D. L. The use of appropriate footwear among patients with diabetes mellitus and those with diabetic foot problems has been documented to play a vital role in the prevention and treatment of the established foot disease. However, there is a paucity of literature on the role of clinicians in ensuring appropriate footwear among patients with diabetes mellitus. This paper explores current practice in the use of appropriate footwear in patients with diabetes mellitus among clinicians in Kaduna state, Nigeria. Materials and Methods: A self-administered structured questionnaire was developed. The questionnaire was divided into two sections: demographic (clinical area of specialization, number of years in practice) and footwear questionnaire. The footwear questionnaire focused on three themes: diabetic foot problems encountered, type of footwear worn, and the role of footwear in the prevention of diabetic foot complications. Data were processed and analyzed using Microsoft Excel 2007. Results: Almost all the participants, 41 (91%), reported that foot ulcers could be related to inappropriate footwear. Most participants, 37 (82%), reported that ill-fitting footwear could be a major problem that leads to amputation. The shoe type reported to be most frequently worn by men were sandals (35%), slippers (26%), and half shoes (17%). The three commonest shoe types that women were reported to wear were slippers (45%), sandals (24%), and half shoes (18%). Conclusion: This study shows that the use of appropriate footwear in the prevention of diabetic foot complications is suboptimal. It is important that healthcare professionals support and stimulate research in establishing a diabetic footwear program.
  • Sustainable Innovation: Footwear Material Choices and Design for People Suffering with Diabetes
    Sustainable Innovation: Footwear Material Choices and Design for People Suffering with Diabetes I.J. Tagang; Chen, Robert Chien-Chung; Pei, Eujin; Higgett, N. Recent research has shown that foot complications are common in people with diabetes, with this being more prominent in less developed countries (Forlee, 2010; Rayman 2004). As a result, there has been an increase in multidisciplinary foot-care teams being set up across the world to advise patients on the proper type of footwear to use or to avoid (Boulton, 2005; Tyrrell, 2009). However, in Africa and other less developed countries, there is still lack of awareness of foot care among patients and health care providers, leading to further foot complications (Abbas, 2007). To resolve this, the International Diabetes Federation and the International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot (2005) advocate new research so as to collect data on diabetic foot complications and to identify appropriate preventative measures. Previous studies showed that improper footwear is probably the reason for high foot ulceration and amputation among diabetics; and many foot problems could still be potentially averted by wearing appropriate shoes (Caselli, 2011; Vernon, 2007). As a result, the authors argue that proper footwear is an essential part of rehabilitative care and an important consideration in the clinical management of diabetic foot disorders. The aim of this work is to first explore current medical knowledge and practice concerning the use of orthopaedic footwear to manage diabetic foot problems, particularly in Nigeria. This survey was conducted from August to September 2012, involving three government hospitals at Kaduna State in Nigeria. A framework consisting of participants selection criteria, a Standard Operating Procedure and research ethical consent form was prepared and used as a guide during the survey. Six doctors from the three hospitals were interviewed by means of structured questionnaires and the outcome was analyzed. This approach was used by the authors because of its potential to elicit a wide range of information from the medical experts despite the small sampling. The pilot survey showed that the percentage of diabetic patients suffering from foot problems ranged from 10% to 48%. Five out of the six doctors indicated that they encountered diabetic patients with foot deformities like charcot foot, hammer toes, ulcers, etc. that regular footwear was unable to accommodate. The authors also found that no footwear programme or service has been made available in Nigeria, of which could potentially educate or improve diabetic foot complications. In addition, the provision of protective footwear through retail channels is also completely non-existent, and medical practitioners did not have the knowledge of specialist footwear manufacturers or technicians in the country. More importantly, the doctors would welcome such a programme or service to improve their patients’ foot condition. As a pioneering survey, these findings provide areas for future research that could potentially increase awareness among health care providers in Nigeria for diabetic patients suffering from foot complications. Strategies and plans on how the authors will conduct further research, including a framework to design and develop comfortable and affordable footwear is also proposed.
  • A MPCDM-enabled product concept design via user involvement approach.
    A MPCDM-enabled product concept design via user involvement approach. Wang, C. H.; Chen, Robert Chien-Chung

Click here to view a full listing of Robert CC Chen's publications and outputs

Research interests/expertise

Design and Innovation (Product and Footwear), ergonomics related Medi/Health-care (Comfort, Fitting and Assistive technology for special needs) and design research (i.e. Design/Research methods and User-centred design). 

Areas of teaching

Research methodology, Design thinking and Design methods, Ergonomics and Product design development for industries and Orthopaedic footwear design, making and fitting technology.


PhD in Medical Engineering and Physics. King’s College, University of London, UK. ‘91-‘93
MPhil in Design and Manufacture. Leicester Polytechnic, UK.’89-‘91
PGDip in Design Strategy and Management. University of Warwick, UK. ’96-‘96
PGDip in Design and Ergonomics. National Tsukuba University, Japan. ’83-‘84
BSc in Industrial Design Engineering. National Cheng-Kung University, Taiwan.’75-‘80

State Associate Professor in Design. Ministry of Education Affairs, Taiwan.’94-date
State Lecturer in Product Design.  Ministry of Education Affairs, Taiwan. '84-date

Courses taught

Principal Lecturer of Industrial Design and Orthopaedic Footwear Technology, Course Leader of MA/MSc Design Innovation Programme.

Honours and awards

September 2000, awarded the Small and Medium Enterprise Innovation Research Award 2000 (Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan) on “Research and Development into 2-in-1 Outsole Pattern with Special Inward Construction for Safety Shoes/Boots Design.”

March 2008, awarded the Dean’s Award for Good Teaching at the De Montfort University, UK for “the production of high quality learning materials; to good team work; to supporting students to manage their own learning and to work in supportive groups; and to a positive, inclusive approach to assimilating a diverse range of individuals into the group”.

Membership of professional associations and societies

Member of DRS (Design Research Society), UK

Member of CID (Chinese Institute of Design), Taiwan

Member of BMES (Bio-Medical Engineering Society), Taiwan

Member of EST (Ergonomics Society of Taiwan), Taiwan

Member of MCSD (The Chartered Society of Designers), UK

Member of CIDA (China Industrial Design Association), Taiwan







Member of REMAP (Technical Equipment for Disabled People, Leicester Panel), UK

Member of ISPO (The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics), Denmark

Member of MSSF (Society of Shoe Fitters), UK

Member of TATA (Assistive Technology and Rehabilitation Association), Taiwan

  Chair and Fellow member of TATA (1998-2001)

Member (fellow) of CPOA (Chinese Prosthetics and Orthotics Association), Taiwan







Consultancy work

Consultant (Shoe-fitting and Wearing comfort) to China Leather and Footwear Association, China

Consultant (Orthopaedic Footwear Design) to KS shoe Ltd., Taiwan

Consultant (Footwear Design) to Longshoe Footwear International, USA

Consultant (Product Design) to Goodman Sports International, Australia, USA






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