Contact Emma Sparks

Areas of expertise

  • Defence Systems Engineering


Before joining Cranfield University at Shrivenham Professor Sparks worked for five years as a research scientist first as a graduate with the Defence Clothing and Textiles Agency and latterly as technical lead for future soldier systems at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. During this time she was responsible for numerous projects looking at all aspects of human protection and performance including running of trials in extreme environments to the development of processes to define and manage research and development of whole soldier system ensembles. Output from this work led to consultancy with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Adelaide where she has worked extensively over the last seven years helping them to progress L125, the Australian Soldier Modernisation Programme.

Professor Sparks has BSc (Hons) in sports science, and also osteopathy. An MSc and PhD in Systems Engineering for Defence and a Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching, Learning and Assessment for Higher Education. She is a member of INCOSE and IET and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Current activities

Main area of interest is how to define human capability from an operational and enterprise standpoint. Other specific areas of interest include:

  • Harmonising HFI and SE approaches
  • Identifying discipline traits in order to facilitate effective team interaction
  • The role of competency frameworks for human systems practitioners
  • Enterprise architectures
  • Defining system of system challenges


  • DE&S
  • Defence Science and Technology Organisation Australia
  • Rolls Royce
  • QinetiQ 


Articles In Journals

  • Sparks & E (2008) A Fine Balance, Defence Management Journal, 42 77-79.

Conference Papers

  • Westwood, E, Smith, N, Dyson & R (2001) Comparison of the Influence of Three Types of Military Combat Boot Insole Upon the Force and Loading Rates Experienced in Drop Jump Landing.. In: XIX International Symposium on Biomechanics in Sport, San Francisco, 20 June 2001.
  • Westwood & E (2001) Best Foot Forward: UK Footwear Research Programme. An Overview. In: International Soldier Systems Conference, Bath, 28 November 2001.


  • Sparks E (eds), (2012) Advances in Military Textiles and Personal Equipment, Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing.
  • Sparks & E (2008) Future Soldier requirements: Dealing with Complexity. In: Military Textiles. Wilusz, E (ed.), Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, p. 3-16.