Modeling Collaborative Design Competence with Ontologies

Modeling Collaborative Design Competence with Ontologies

Vladimir Tarasov (Jönköping University, Sweden), Kurt Sandkuhl (Jönköping University, Sweden) and Magnus Lundqvist (Jönköping University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-611-7.ch094


Collaborative design in dispersed groups of engineers creates various kinds of challenges to technology, organization and social environment. Selected examples are knowledge sharing, coordination support or secure tool integration (Jacucci, Pawlak, & Sandkuhl, 2005). Work presented in this chapter is located in the area of formation of teams for collaborative design. The challenge addressed is how to describe and represent the competences needed for a planned collaborative design project in a way that those individuals best suited for the collaboration can be identified. The proposed approach is to apply ontology engineering to modeling competences of individuals, including different competence areas like cultural competences, professional competences or occupational competences.
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This chapter is a condensed and enhanced version of the paper published in International Journal of e-Collaboration (Tarasov & Lundqvist, 2007). The presented approach is based on earlier work in the field of competence modeling, both of enterprise competences (Henoch & Sandkuhl, 2002) and of individual competences (Tarassov, Sandkuhl, & Henoch, 2006). Furthermore, earlier work has addressed formation of networks for collaborative engineering (Blomqvist, Levashova, Öhgren, Sandkuhl, & Smirnov, 2005), flexible supply chains (Sandkuhl, Smirnov, & Shilov) or business community creation (Kashevnik, Sandkuhl, Shilov, Smirnov, & Tarasov, 2008), but with a focus on identifying suitable enterprises for a given task description.

Analyzing and structuring competences has been addressed in many papers. Genevi, ve, Blaize Horner, & Izak (1997) examined competences of business managers and structured them into two groups: IT knowledge and IT experience. The former represents acquired knowledge and the latter reflects skills obtained through work. Another work (Giardino & Pearce, 1993) describes core competences needed for information development. They comprise general competences including design and analysis abilities, technical expertise in the IT area, and business skills like knowledge of the market. Structuring competences as well as indicators for analysis of individual and enterprise competences are also addressed in (Jussupova-Mariethoz & Probst, 2007). The identified individual competences are knowledge gained through education, skills mastered with experience, and behavioral characteristics. Competences are also grouped according to level and importance.

The identified competences can be analyzed to drive competence development and business improvement (Giardino & Pearce, 1993). If competences are formalized in the form of an ontology, it can be used as part of a competence retrieval system (Jussupova-Mariethoz & Probst, 2007). It allows for analysis, planning and control of business performance of an enterprise. Another example of using an ontology-based competence model is given in (Paquette, 2007). The author describes an ontology-driven e-learning system that supports evaluation of competencies by determining competency gaps. The evaluation result is used to plan activities to achieve learning goals.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Competence Model: A well-defined formal structure allowing for representation of an individual’s competences.

Ontology Matching: The process of establishing similarity between two ontologies or parts of ontologies. In our approach, a competence profile (part of the ontology representing the collaborative design competence model) can be matched against another ontology (or part of it) representing the collaborative design task.

Ontology: Representation of a problem domain using concepts, their properties, relations between concepts, and axioms expressing constraints.

Collaborative Design: A design task performed in a dispersed group of workers with a joint collaboration objective.

Competence Profile: An instance of a competence model. A competence profile describes particular competences of a person.

General Competences: Abilities that are needed for performing general tasks during collaborative design. Theses abilities are general in nature and applicable in different situations, e.g. ability to plan, ability to form teams or creativity.

Engineering Design: A design task within engineering disciplines like mechanical, electrical or computer engineering.

Competence: A set of all knowledge forms and personal abilities that are required for performing tasks (Bjurklo & Kardemark, 1998).

Cultural Competences: Experience of individuals of different origin acting as a bridge between groups in the design team from different cultural backgrounds.

Occupational Competences: Skills in the field of engineering in question and different technical skills in this engineering area. They are obtained through education and work experience of the person.

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