Tool and Information Centric Design Process Modeling: Three Case Studies

Tool and Information Centric Design Process Modeling: Three Case Studies

William Stuart Miller (Clemson University, USA) and Joshua D. Summers (Clemson University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-617-9.ch005
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A new design process modeling approach focused on the information flow through design tools is discussed in this chapter. This approach is applied to three long term mechanical engineering design projects spanning 24 months, 12 months, and 4 months. These projects are used to explore the development of the new modeling approach. This is a first step in a broader effort in 1) modeling of design processes, 2) establishing case study research as a formal approach to design research, and 3) developing new design process tools. The ability of engineers to understand the dynamic nature of information throughout the design processes is critical to their ability to complete these tasks. Such understanding promotes learning and further exploration of the design process allowing the improvement of process models, the establishment of new research approaches, and the development of new tools. Thus, enhancing this understanding is the goal of this research effort.
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The Design Process

The design process is a flexible, high level, logical network of activities to be performed and/or design tools to be used for the entire act of designing an artifact, formed by choosing desirable candidate(s) from a set of viable activities/design tools based on certain objectives (Hazelrigg, 1998). The design process is the collaboration of scientific “know how” with mental and physical steps being taken toward the goal of arriving at a satisfying solution (Simon, Kotovsky, & Cagan, 2001). It is a social activity which allows the generation of physical and intellectual property from mental organization and physical tasks (Leifer & Tang, 1988). Engineers perform design processes often with varying degrees of success. The goal of the research presented here is to enhance the ability of designers to understand and therefore complete design processes.

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