Professor Emma Sparks

Professor Emma Sparks

Dean and Rector, UNSW Canberra

Professor Emma Sparks is a systems engineer and currently Director of Programme Portfolio Delivery, Deputy Director of Education and Head of the Centre for Systems and Technology Management at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom (UK).

Professor Sparks has a BSc (Hons) in sports science and osteopathy, an MSc and PhD in systems engineering for defence, and a postgraduate certificate in teaching, learning and assessment for higher education. She is a member of the International Council on Systems Engineering and the Institution of Engineering and Technology. She is a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK.

Professor Sparks was recognised as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering in the UK and is the first female to be appointed to the role of Dean and Rector at UNSW Canberra.

Professor Sparks brings 20 years’ experience of working across both the higher education and defence sectors. Before joining Cranfield University, Professor Sparks worked at the Defence Clothing and Textiles Agency and at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in the UK.

Her early research in the UK at the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Laboratory, Fort Halstead, focused on human protection and performance, developing next generation soldier systems. PhD research on future soldier capability led to a long-standing relationship with DST in Adelaide working on the Australian Soldier Modernisation Program, part of a $35 million package to boost the Army’s combat capability.

In her current role, Professor Sparks leads the 'Women in Defence' charter activity for Cranfield University and worked with the UK military on future education needs across the services. In 2020, she launched the Defence and Security Programme as part of the Cranfield portfolio.