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Stefan Lie


Stefan Lie is an industrial designer whose work in practice, postgraduate study and academic research has led to a focus on interaction design for physical products. At UTS he lectures in the Integrated Product Design program, and is continuing his postgraduate research in Interaction Design.

His research lies in the ways that new manufacturing methods, such as 3D printing, enable interactive products to be manufactured in very low volumes for specific applications. He investigates the development of new design methodologies that will lead to such outcomes.

Stefan completed his Master’s by research thesis in his case study for a joint project between UTS and the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) of NSW titled “A cooperative design approach to the design of interactive devices for small, specialised user groups”. The project was the design, development and implementation of an Operator Control Unit for a semi-autonomous robot.

In 2012-2014, Stefan was research associate with the Centre for Autonomous Systems in the UTS Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology. He was part of a product development team that researches, develops and implements digitally interactive medical devices for aged-care practice.

Stefan continues his creative work in furniture such as the Ribs Bench and in designed objects such as the Fukidashi Box and Origami Slipper.
Image of Stefan Lie
Lecturer, School of Design
B. Des (UTS), M.Eng (UTS)
+61 2 9514 8048


Lie, S. 2012, A cooperative design approach to the design of interactive devices for small, specialized user groups, University of Technology, Sydney, UTS Theses, Sydney.
This research considers a cooperative design approach to the design, development and implementation of interactive devices catering to small, specialised user groups. Conventional methods of mass production used in the manufacture of interactive devices demand medium to large volume production runs of 10,000 to 100,000 + units for products to remain cost effective. This drives the need for products to appeal to large user groups, which means product implementation catering to small user groups is limited. However there is a need for interactive devices catering to small user groups in industries that require specialised devices to do specific tasks. Such industries include mining, health care and aged care to name a few. Recent advancements in Additive Manufacturing technology combined with the availability of Open Source Hardware + Software offer the possibility to develop and implement interactive devices for low-volume production starting as low as one unit produced. Conventional User Centred Design approaches used in Industrial Design are tailored towards high-volume production, however for small-volume production a cooperative design (co-design) approach may be more relevant. To investigate this a study was conducted by devising a co-design approach and applying it to the design, development and implementation of an Operator Control Unit (OCU). This OCU was designed to control a semi-autonomous robotic Grit-blasting Assistive Device (GAD) that was deployed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge (SHB). The purpose of the SHB GAD is to remove old paint and rust from the Harbour Bridge steel structure by blasting it with grit. The development of the SHB GAD, including its OCU, is a joint project between Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and the University of Technology Sydneys Centre for Autonomous Systems. The project was chosen for the study because the SHB GAD is a tool developed specifically for the Sydney Harbour Bridge and is to be used by a small user group of ten...


Bongers, A.J., Smith, S., Donker, V., Pickrell, M., Hall, R. & Lie, S. 2014, 'Interactive Infrastructures: Physical Rehabilitation Modules for Pervasive Healthcare Technology' in Holzinger, A., Ziefle, M. & Röcker, C. (eds), Pervasive Health – State of the Art and Beyond, Springer Verlag, London, pp. 229-254.
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Traditional physical rehabilitation techniques are based mainly on mechanical structures and passive materials. This has certain limitations, which can be overcome by applying interactive technologies. As a team of designers, technologists and medical researchers and practitioners, we have developed an interactive sensor floor tile system and several other modules for rehabilitation exercises, as part of an interactive infrastructure to support rehabilitation. Since 2009, the team has advanced its understanding of rehabilitation practices and problems, and designed prototypes, interventions and demonstrators in order to gain feedback on our approach. We have identified as the three critical issues affecting rehabilitation motivation, customisation, andindependence. The system that we have developed is founded on the current mechanical practices, of improvisational nature, and creative use of existing materials and techniques, expanding from this way of working by applying new interactive digital technologies and 3D instant manufacturing techniques. We have developed a number of modules for the system, and a physical programming technique which aims to blend in with current practices. Two sets of sensor floor modules are in use in hospitals and we are reporting in this chapter the first positive effects the system has on the rehabilitation of stroke patients.


Walden, R., Lie, S., Pandolfo, B. & Lockhart, C. 2015, 'A design research strategy for advancing the technological and competitive strength of Australian manufacturing Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs)', Design for Business: Research Conference, Melbourne, Australia.
This paper will propose a design research strategy to support collaboration of SMEs and University Research Units on projects intended to advance the competitive strength of SMEs in Australia through the utilisation of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (AMT). Review of literature identifies that a predominant driver for enterprises to remain competitive, is investment in Research and Development (R&D) strategies; and that while manufacturing SMEs have the potential to be innovation leaders, they are often not able to fund the high cost associated with in-house R&D. This presents SMEs with a challenge that needs to be addressed. The Australian Government, Industry Innovation and Competitive Agenda (2014) outlines a funding program that supports collaboration between university research units with Australian manufacturing SMEs under its Advanced Manufacturing category, with a view to implementing AMT into the manufacturing sector. A form of Advanced Manufacturing Technology - Additive Manufacturing (AM) has been the subject of significant and ongoing inquiry by the research sector and manufacturing sector alike. Background research and further literature research indicates that there maybe significant advantages to the implementation of AM into more mainstream production. While SMEs have the flexibility to innovate with the technology on one hand, they are also bound by financial constraints that limits their ability to conduct the necessary experimentation required to identify ways of utilising the technology. Review of similar programs in Korea and the UK, finds that government funded university-industry projects to improve the competitiveness of SMEs, requires that knowledge transfer yield short-term implementable outcomes for the company in terms of new products and processes. However, to strategically coordinate the implementation of AM into a SMEs production system requires experimentation, innovation and long-term vision. Resolving the combination of these...
Lie, S. & Walden, R. 2015, 'Evolving a university product design program: An approach for contemporary design practice', Website proceedings of TENZ 2015 (Technology Education New Zealand), TENZ 2015 (Technology Education New Zealand), Technology Education New Zealand, Hamilton, New Zealand, pp. 1-12.
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This paper reports on the evolution of the product design degree at the University of Technology Sydney, in the Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, School of Design. The expanding nature of professional disciplines of product design has placed pressure on university product design programs to educate students across all potential aspects of the profession. A move to restructure all design courses in the School of Design from a four year degree, to a three year degree with a one year honours / two year master's extension presented the opportunity to set the identity and focus for the course more precisely within the scope of the product design discipline. Research into the contemporary and predictable future practice of product design given socio-cultural and technological change directed by the research strengths of the academic staff in the course provides the foundation. Further connecting these findings with the strategic goals of the faculty, provides the basis for establishing an identity for the course that can appropriately and effectively link research and teaching functions within the program. Through the lens of a new subject in the new degree, compared against the requirements and expectations of a compatible subject in the former degree serves to demonstrate a number of successful outcomes for the transition. Firstly, it demonstrates the way design theory can be translated through practice-orientated learning. Secondly it demonstrates ways of de-emphasising dated conventions and restrictions while importing new, contemporary priorities in design, to maintain discipline and integrity. And lastly, it proposes a strategic approach to managing a product design course that is driven by strong research directives that ensure the prosperity of the teaching program.
Ranasinghe, R., Dantanarayana, L., Tran, A., Lie, S., Behrens, M. & Liu, L. 2014, 'Smart Hoist: An Assistive Robot to Aid Carers', International Conference on Control Automation Robotics & Vision, Control, Automation, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Vision (ICARCV), IEEE, Singapore, pp. 1285-1291.
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Assistive Robotics(AR) is a rapidly expanding field, implementing advanced intelligent machines which are able to work collaboratively with a range of human users; as assistants, tools and as companions. These AR devices can assist stretched carers at residential aged care facilities to safely enhance their capacity and to improve the quality of care services. The research work presented in this paper describes the pre- liminary outcomes of a design, development and implementation of a patient lifting AR device (Smart Hoist) to reduce lower back injuries to carers while transferring patients in aged care facilities. The proposed solution, a modified conventional lifter device which consists of several sensors capable of interacting with the Smart Hoist operator and its environment, and a set of powered wheels. This solution helps carers to manoeuvre the Smart Hoist safely and intuitively. Preliminary results collected from an evaluation of the Smart Hoist conducted at the premises of IRT Woonona residential care facility confirm the improved safety, comfort and confidence for the carers.
Lie, S., Liu, D. & Bongers, B. 2012, 'A cooperative approach to the design of an Operator Control Unit for a semi-autonomous grit-blasting robot', Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation (ACRA) 2012, Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation 2012, Australian Robotics and Automation Association (ARAA), Wellington, New Zealand, pp. 1-7.
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Due to the diverse range of applications that robots cover today, Human Robot Interaction interface design has become an equally diverse area. This diverse area is characterised by the different types of end users that make use of the robots. For robots to be useful to end users their needs have to be well understoodby the robotics development teams. One approach that facilitates understanding the end users needs is Cooperative Design. This paper presents the results of a study that took a Cooperative Design approach to the design and development of a robotic Operator Control Unit. The results presented here demonstrate that end users involved in the cooperative design approach thought it added important value to the design outcome, that they enjoyed the process and that it helped build interpersonal relationships within the development team.
Manamperi, P., Brooks, P.A., Kaluarachchi, W., Peters, G., Ho, A., Lie, S., To, A.W., Paul, G., Rushton-Smith, D., Webb, S.S., Liu, D. & Dissanayake, G. 2011, 'Robotic Grit-blasting: Engineering Challenges', Sustainable Bridges: The Thread of Society, Sustainable Bridges: The Thread of Society, 2011 Austroads Bridge Conference (ABC 2011), Sydney, Australia, pp. 321-330.
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Infrastructure shortage and aging are worldwide issues. Australia, in particular, faces unique challenges in maintaining infrastructures such as roadways and bridges. Corrosion is the primary cause of failure in steel bridges, and is minimised by painting the steel structure. Stripping of rust and deteriorated paint by grit-blasting is an effective and practical method. However, grit-blasting operation is extremely labour intensive and hazardous. It is one of the biggest expenditure items in bridge maintenance operations. Robotics technologies can provide effective solutions to assist bridge maintenance workers in grit blasting. Since 2005, the NSW Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) and the Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems at the University of Technology, Sydney have been working together in developing a robotic system for assisting bridge maintenance workers, with the ultimate objective of preventing human exposure to hazardous and dangerous dust containing rust, paint particles and lead, relieving human workers from labor intensive tasks, and reducing costs associated with bridge maintenance. A prototype robotic system has been developed and tested in both lab setup and on-site. Many engineering issues have been identified for deploying such a system in the field. This paper will present these issues and discuss the solutions.

Non traditional outputs

Walden, R.J. & Lie, S. 2009, 'GRW Cooling Vest', n/a, Access UTS, UniQuest Pty Ltd (JCU), UTS.
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Roderick Walden and Stefan Lie were approached by UniQuest: James Cook University to develop a design, based on an invention by a team headed by Dr. Glen Deakin of the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science at JCU. The invention is a new type of cooling vest for hot intensive working conditions (e.g. fire fighters with heavy protective clothing). The project was managed through Access UTS and its focus was to take the invention from a very rough working model, through to a manufacturable product design. The practice-led research entered into resulted in a prototyped design that is very inexpensive to make and performs with all of the advantages of the invention.
Walden, R.J. & Lie, S., 'MTB Multi-tool Design; Office desktop accessories.', Convergence, -, DABLAB, UTS.
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Both MTB Multi-tool design and Office Desktop accessories were undertaken as part of a collaborative research design project by Roderick Walden and Stefan Lie, industrial designers, working on two different self-initiated product design problems investigating ergonomics, interface design and the interplay between operational elements in multi-functional designs. Both final design outcomes were presented in an exhibition entitled 'Convergence', held in the DAB LAB Research Gallery at UTS. The exhibition demonstrated a connection between self-initiated design practice for multi-functional product types and practice-driven design research. The MTB Multi-tool design is an item carried for competitive mountain biking. The invention is a unique integration of tools within the brake lever of a mountain bike. The innovation houses a number of tools normally found in a multi-tool set. The tools can be interchanged according to the cyclist's preferences or anticipated needs during a race. The Office Desktop accessories is a series of ecologically sustainable desktop accessories with a unique design forâ¨carrying and accommodating office stationery. The trays are made by compression moulding leather.â¨Through this project the designers have developed tools and processes that apply contemporary materials and manufacturing knowledge to an ancient technique. The exhibition included a final prototype and a series of models, sketches, renderings and tools. The process of developing both designs addressed questions around self-initiated design practice. Their significance as product design solutions were their potential for commercialization. A provisional patent application was filed on the 23rd October 2008, funded by UniQuest Pty. Ltd. (UTS) for the invention of MTB Multi-tool design.
Lie, S., 'The Security Blanket', Safety Catch, Art Guide Australia (published by Print Ideas Publisher), UTS Faculty of DAB (DAB DOCS).
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The Safety Catch project invited a group of Australian designers to respond to the issue of safety and security. Their reaction was delivered through the medium of product design, the collection of responses formed the Safety Catch exhibition that was staged at the UTS Gallery in August 2006.
Lie, S., 'Freestyle: New Australian design for living (p178-183)', Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design and the Melbourne Museum, Co-published by Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design and the Melbourne Museum, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian (several issues leading up to and during the exhibition).
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Freestyle: new Australian design for living brings together the work and stories of 40 outstanding Australian designers from the fields of furniture, lighting, textiles, homewares, fashion, jewellery and accessories. This exhibition aims to reflect the character, vibrancy and increasing maturity of contemporary design in Australia. Handmade one-off and limited edition design objects are showcased and considered alongside industrially manufactured items and prototypes - reflecting the breadth and nature of design excellence and innovation in Australia. Intriguing aspects of the personality, passion and process of the individual designers is revealed and their work is placed within broader personal and cultural contexts. Freestyle provides a unique and timely overview of contemporary object design in Australia. Curated by Object's Associate Director Brian Parkes and accompanied by a major publication this compelling survey exhibition is a first-time collaboration between Melbourne Museum and Object Gallery. Opening in Melbourne, Freestyle travels to Sydney before embarking on a national and international tour. Melbourne Museum is a venue of Museum Victoria, a statutory authority funded by the Victorian Government through Arts Victoria. Together Object Gallery and Melbourne Museum aim to promote Australia's design excellence both within Australia and globally.
Lie, S. & Walden, R.J., 'Office desktop accessories', Convergence, UniQuest Pty Ltd (UTS), DAB LAB.
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The project developed a series of ecologically sustainable desktop accessories with a unique design for carrying andaccommodating office stationery. The trays are made by compression moulding leather. Through this project the designers have developed tools and processes that applies contemporary materials and manufacturing knowledge to an ancient technique. The project was undertaken as part of a collaborative research design project with Roderick Walden and Stefan Lie (UTS) investigating ergonomics, interface design and the interplay between operational elements in multi-functional design. The entire project, including the final design outcome was presented in an Exhibition titled 'Convergence' held in the DAB LAB Research Gallery at UTS. The exhibition demonstrated a connection between self-initiated design practice for multi-functional product types and practice-driven design research. The design (as exhibited) examines the connection between materials and structure using renewable resources and sustainable manufacturing methods. This, in connection with the research objective of understanding ways of converging a set of operational elements into singular units, has produced a unique design that demonstrates methods and approaches to design problem solving, collaborative design and self-initiated design practice.
Walden, R.J. & Lie, S., 'GRW Coolme Vest: Emergency Firefighting Equipment', GRW Coolme Vest: Emergency Firefighting Equipment, UTS DAB LAB Research Gallery, UTS DAB LAB Research Gallery.
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This exhibition presents the prototype for a new type of cooling vest designed to significantly reduce heat stress and recovery times for emergency workers in hot intensive working conditions. A team of scientists from James Cook University developed the invention (the cooling principle) that was then designed into a wearable vest for operation and ease of manufacture by Roderick Walden and Stefan Lie. The principle end-users are fire fighters in Rural Fire Services around Australia, volunteer organisations with limited funds so the final product needed to be low in cost. The research centres on the investigation of low cost and readily available materials and manufacturing applications in achieving performance criteria for a cooling vest intended for extreme working conditions. Sixteen prototypes were made by the designers and tested in live fire trials with the Queensland Rural Fire Service. The exhibition focuses on the role of the industrial designers â taking an invention from mock-up through to a viable, manufacturing product and prototypes for user trials âand features some of the key design problems addressed. The exhibition demonstrates the contribution of design expertise to a collaborative research project, achieving a commercially viable product outcome based on an invention grounded in scientific research. The significance of this research is that it has produced a successful design for a high performance, technical product using low cost materials and technology more commonly associated with inflatable toys and packaging manufacture. This innovative approach will ensure that wide distribution of the product is made possible.