John McPhee

Canada Research Chair

Contact InformationJohn McPhee

Phone: 519-888-4567 x35341
Location: E3 4114


Biography Summary

John McPhee received his degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Acadia University, the Technical University of Nova Scotia, and the University of Waterloo, Canada. He worked at the Université de Liège, Belgium, and Queen’s University, Canada, before taking a faculty position in 1992 at Waterloo, where he is now a Professor in Systems Design Engineering and the Canada Research Chair in Biomechatronic System Dynamics.

Dr. McPhee is Canada’s foremost researcher in the field of multibody system dynamics, with principal application to the analysis and design of vehicles, mechatronic devices, biomechanical systems, and sports equipment. He pioneered the use of linear graph theory to model multi-domain dynamic systems, and his research algorithms have been commercialized by Maplesoft and are a core part of the MapleSim engineering package, which is used by thousands of engineers and researchers at Toyota, NASA, Ford, Honda Motorcycle, General Motors, Harley Davidson, TRW, and others. Dr. McPhee has won several research awards, including the I.W. Smith Award, the Premier’s Research Excellence Award, and Best Paper Awards from the American and Canadian Societies for Mechanical Engineering and the International Society for Terrain-Vehicle Systems. He has also received awards for his teaching, written over 200 peer-reviewed papers, consulted to many industries in Canada and the United States, and appeared as an expert witness in the Federal Court of Canada. He has supervised 70 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario.

Dr. McPhee has served as the Associate Editor for seven international journals, two of which he helped to found – Multibody System Dynamics and the ASME Journal for Computational and Nonlinear Dynamics – which are the two flagship journals in this field. He has given invited keynote presentations around the globe, delivered webinars on automotive system modelling to thousands of practicing engineers, and in 2005 he was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Dr. McPhee was a co-founder of the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR) and, during his 2007-2009 tenure as the Executive Director, he grew WatCAR from a fledgling research centre to the largest academic cluster for automotive engineering research in Canada, garnering international recognition and over $10 million in annual funding. Following this tenure, he was the first academic to spend a sabbatical year at the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he launched his NSERC/Toyota/Maplesoft Industrial Research Chair in Mathematics-Based Modelling and Design. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineers.

In 2014, Dr. McPhee received the prestigious NSERC Synergy Award from the Governor-General of Canada.

Research Interests

  • Modelling and simulation
  • Multibody dynamics
  • Biomechanics
  • Vehicle system dynamics
  • Mechatronics
  • Mechanism and machine design
  • Sports engineering
  • Design optimization
  • Systems theory
  • Autonomous and Connected Car
  • Hybrid electric vehicles
  • Robotics
  • Exoskeletons


  • 1990, Doctorate, Mechanical Engineering, University of Waterloo
  • 1986, Master's, Mechanical Engineering, University of Waterloo
  • 1984, Bachelor's, Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Nova Scotia
  • 1982, Certificate of Applied Science, Certificate of Applied Science, Acadia University


  • BME 182 - Physics II - Dynamics
    • Taught in 2016
  • BME 450 - Sports Engineering
    • Taught in 2018, 2019
  • BME 550 - Sports Engineering
    • Taught in 2020
  • SYDE 553 - Advanced Dynamics
    • Taught in 2016
  • SYDE 652 - Dynamics of Multibody Systems
    • Taught in 2017, 2019, 2020
  • SYDE 750 - Topics in Systems Modelling
    • Taught in 2016, 2018
* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • McNally, William and Balzerson, Daniel and Wilson, Daniel and McPhee, John, Effect of Clubhead Inertial Properties and Driver Face Geometry on Golf ball Trajectories, Procedia Engineering, 147, 2016, 407 - 412
  • Laschowski, Brock and McPhee, John, Quantifying Body Segment Parameters Using Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry: A Paralympic Wheelchair Curler Case Report, Procedia Engineering, 147, 2016, 163 - 167
  • Taghavipour, Amir and Vajedi, Mahyar and Azad, Nasser L and McPhee, John, A Comparative Analysis of Route-Based Energy Management Systems for Phevs, Asian Journal of Control, 18(1), 2016, 29 - 39
  • Mehrabi, Naser and McPhee, John and Azad, Nasser L, Design and evaluation of an observer-based disturbance rejection controller for electric power steering systems, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering, 230(7), 2016, 867 - 884
  • Banerjee, Joydeep and McPhee, John, Graph-theoretic sensitivity analysis of multi-domain dynamic systems: theory and symbolic computer implementation, Nonlinear Dynamics, 2016, 1 - 25

In the News

Graduate Studies