Carnegie Mellon University

Susan Finger

Susan Finger

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Associate Dean, Integrative Design Arts & Technology (IDeATe)

Civil & Environmental Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890


Susan Finger is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering who is affiliated with the School of Architecture and the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems. Professor Finger also serves as the Associate Dean for IDeATe, the Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network. 

Her research interests focus on understanding how students learn from one another while working on collaborative projects. She has studied how the social ties between teammates affects project outcomes and how the progress of a design can be traced by analyzing the exchange of documents and messages. Professor Finger has always enjoyed working at the interface between culture and technology and her passion has been reflected in her career in many ways.

Dr. Finger received her BA in Astronomy and MA in Operations Research from the University of Pennsylvania and her PhD in Electric Power Systems through Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was the first program director for Design Theory and Methodology at the National Science Foundation. She recently returned to Carnegie Mellon from a four-year rotation at the National Science Foundation as a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education. She is a founder and former Co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Research in Engineering Design and is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Courtesy AppointmentsArchMechERobotics    


PhD 1981 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Research Group: SETS        

Areas of Interest

  • Representation languages for design
  • Integration of design and manufacturing concerns
  • Computer-supported cooperative learning


PA Simon, S Finger, D Krackhardt, DP Siewiorek, A Smailagic (2015) "Levels of Social Network Analysis and Small Team Problem-solving in the Classroom" Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference, June, 2015, Paper ID #11873.

SV Oberoi, S Finger, E Rosé (2013) “Online implementation of the delta design game for analyzing collaborative team practices” Proceedings  of the International Design and Design Education (DEC), DETC2013-13319,  Portland, OR.

DA Romero, CH Amon, S Finger (2012) “Multiresponse Metamodeling in Simulation-Based Design Applications” Journal of Mechanical Design, Vol. 134 / 091001-1

JM Reddy, S Finger, S Konda and E Subrahmanian (1997) “Design as Building and Reuse of Artifact Theory: Understanding and Supporting Growth of Design Knowledge,” The Design Productivity Debate, Springer-Verlag, London, pp 268-289.

S Finger and JR Dixon (1989) “A Review of Research in Mechanical Engineering Design, Part I” Research in Engineering Design, Vol 1, No 1, 1989, pp 51-67.

S Finger and JR Dixon (1989) “A Review of Research in Mechanical Engineering Design, Part II” Research in Engineering Design, Vol 1, No 2, pp 121-137.

Recent Awards

  • 2014: named Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • 2006: awarded the Steven J. Fenves Award for Systems Research, Institute for Complex Engineered Systems


  • 12-030 IDeATe: Responsive Structures
  • 12-301 CEE Projects
  • 12-659 Matlab
  • 12-746 Intro Python Pro Inf Sys
  • 12-780 Adv Python Inf Sys
  • 39-245 Rapid Prototype Design