Jonathan Cagan is the George Tallman and Florence Barrett Ladd Professor of Mechanical Engineering. His career spans collaborative and innovative work in education, research, and industry.

Researching engineering design automation and methods, Cagan merges AI, machine learning, and optimization methods with cognitive science problem solving. One focal area is the cognitive basis and computational modeling of designer processes to improve the effectiveness of human designers, with a focus on hybrid human/AI teams. Another area includes computational methods for the design and diagnosis of biomechanical systems. An additional focus is in user-centered design and integrated product development practice. He exemplifies the college’s culture of advanced collaboration, having worked with engineers, psychologists, neuro-scientists, marketers, designers, computer scientists, and architects in his work.

At Carnegie Mellon, Cagan co-founded and co-directed the Integrated Innovation Institute and served as interim dean, and, prior, associate dean for graduate and faculty affairs and chief academic officer, of the College of Engineering. Cagan was recently honored with the Robert A. Doherty Award for Sustained Contributions to Excellence in Education. Active in professional societies and editorial boards, Cagan is a Fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and was awarded with the ASME Design Theory and Methodology, Design Automation, and Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Awards. He has authored several books, more than 300 publications, and is an inventor on multiple patents.

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Jonathan Cagan
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Integrated Design Innovation Group

Design and Innovation


1990 Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

1985 MS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Rochester

1983 BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Rochester

Media mentions

CMU Engineering

Automating engineering’s ideal manager

A recent paper by a collaboration of CMU mechanical engineering and psychology researchers explored the use of artificial intelligence as a process manager for human design teams.

2021 Engineering faculty award winners selected

Congratulations to the 2021 CMU Engineering Faculty Awards winners.

CMU Engineering

Bringing students into the next industrial revolution

Students taking a new course combine rapidly expanding technologies to create innovative solutions for real societal problems.

Florida News Times

Cagan and Taylor’s research on DNA origami featured

MechE’s Jonathan Cagan and Rebecca Taylor’s research on DNA origami was featured in Florida News Times.

CMU Engineering

Using DNA for tiny tech

Tito Babatunde and her advisors Rebecca Taylor and Jon Cagan are combining their expertise to optimize designs for DNA origami nanostructures.

CMU Engineering

Predictive placentas: Using AI to protect mothers’ future pregnancies

In partnership with UPMC, Carnegie Mellon researchers developed a machine learning approach for examining placenta samples to determine if mothers are at risk for complications in future pregnancies.

CMU Mechanical Engineering

Cagan receives ASME award

MechE’s Jonathan Cagan has been named the 2020 recipient of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award.

Mechanical Engineering

Cagan earns ASME award

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers recognizes Jonathan Cagan with the Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award.

Mechanical Engineering

Transforming the toolbox

The true impact of AI and machine learning occurs when these technologies are translated into the physical world. This is the role of mechanical engineers—and we’re leading the way.

ZME Science

Cagan research on training AI in design featured

ZME Science featured a new study by MechE’s Jon Cagan and Ph.D. candidate Ayush Raina that shows how artificial intelligence (AI) can be trained to learn complex design problems.

CMU Engineering

AI learns to design

AI agents imitate engineers to construct effective new designs using visual cues like humans do.

CMU Engineering

Cagan receives ASME Design Automation Award

Jon Cagan, interim dean of Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering and professor of mechanical engineering, has been awarded the Design Automation Award from the the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME).