prof. Jonathan wheals

Chief Engineer - Innovation, Ricardo

Monday 4 July, 1130 

TRACK: Curriculum & Learning

"Innovation in the curriculum - saving our species by better invention"


As Chief Engineer for Innovation at Ricardo, Jon is responsible for invention and commercial adoption of disruptive technologies, with many focused upon offshore wind turbines and more radical means of using renewable energy to abate and reverse climate damage. In relation to this work, he was appointed a visiting Professor at the University of Sheffield in 2012.

Jon graduated B.Eng (Hons) in Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering at Loughborough University of Technology, and undertook PhD-related investigation of means to increase drivers’ perception of powertrain performance to reduce CO2, funded by Ford. He maintains an inquisitiveness in many fields, including motion sickness and acts as a PhD examiner at Warwick for autonomous vehicles, and consults to both automotive and superyacht manufacturers.

He applies structured methods of invention, including TRIZ and biomimetics, to support Ricardo’s diverse global clients and provided an impromptu course of lectures for eighty avid WSF students during lockdown tackling the World’s biggest problems.


 Jon is keen to debunk the perception of haphazard origination by demonstration of the recipe of methods used by professional inventors, as exemplified in his support of the OX vehicle for Rwanda which applied TRIZ to overcome technical contradictions to extend rainy-season mobility and range. This type of engagement aligns with his passion to enthuse all to explore their creative abilities, and to amplify his personal quest for “net negative” CO2 impact through uncovering latent creativity in others.

Jon is a strong advocate of innovation being taught within schools – as the apex subject which recognises and rewards creativity, combining invention and entrepreneurship, and believes it would engage both STEM and ARTs-biased pupils, and may discover future industrial luminaries unenthused by traditional subjects.