In Memoriam

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Guest Editorial

J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):100301-100301-2. doi:10.1115/1.4034269.

To create a journal that addressed a breadth of topics like vibration, wear, impact, and fatigue in mechanical components, it may have seemed logical that this journal was born in the late 1970's under a rather generic moniker of “mechanical design.” But over its 39 years of existence, the journal grew quickly to cover broader notions of mechanical design—notions covering the mechanical design process as well as mechanical design products. In the late 1980's, the focus on the design process alone had accumulated enough interest to lead several researchers to dedicate an entire conference to the theories and methodologies of design. The first ASME DTM (Design Theory and Methodology) Conference took place in Montreal, QC, Canada, in the summer of 1989. It included 13 papers divided into three themes that have since blossomed, merged, divided, and persevered: (1) Design Process Evaluation, (2) Knowledge Representation and Design Process, and (3) Employing Computation in Design. This year, the ASME DTM Conference will celebrate its 27th year with a dozen themes and 48 papers. Participants to the annual international conference will attest that it is always a well-attended (usually standing room only) and enthusiastic conversation about the mechanical engineering design process. Clearly, engineering design is essential to the success of any industry endeavor—whether it be the success of a particular engineering firm, the success of a public infrastructure project, or the success of a high-tech invention. And, this DTM community has sought to explicitly define the extent and underlying common phenomena of the engineering design process. It is clear that in addition to understanding our products and the underlying physics that govern their success, we, as engineers, must understand our design process and the theories and methods that define it and push it forward.

Topics: Design theory , Design
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Research Papers: Design Theory and Methodology

J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):101101-101101-11. doi:10.1115/1.4034270.

Design grammars have been successfully applied in numerous engineering disciplines, e.g., in electrical engineering, architecture, and mechanical engineering. A successful application of design grammars in computational design synthesis (CDS) requires (a) meaningful representation of designs and the design task at hand, (b) careful formulation of grammar rules to synthesize new designs, (c) problem-specific design evaluation, and (d) selection of an appropriate algorithm to guide the synthesis process. Determining these different components of a CDS method requires not only a detailed understanding of each individual part but also of the interdependencies between them. In this paper, a new method is presented to support both CDS method development and application. The method analyzes the designs generated during the synthesis process and visualizes how the design space is explored with respect to design characteristics and objectives. The search algorithm as well as the grammar rules are analyzed with this approach. Two case studies, the synthesis of gearboxes and of bicycle frames, demonstrate how the method can be used to analyze the different components of CDS methods. The presented research can analyze the interplay between grammar rules and the search process during method development.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):101102-101102-12. doi:10.1115/1.4034084.

User behavior can determine over one third of the energy consumed in the residential energy market. Thus, user behavior has become a primary focus in sustainable mechanical device, appliance, and smart-energy systems design. Wasteful user behaviors, termed energy overuse failure modes (EOFMs), offer an opportunity for design engineers to direct users toward more sustainable behavior through design strategies. There are fundamentally two intervention strategies: (1) product or systems solution led or (2) behavioral led. Both are used to achieve increased sustainable user behavior. To ensure expected intervention outcomes, it is equally important to both identify the EOFMs as well as their underlying causes. However, the prevailing sustainable design approaches, such as design for sustainable behavior (DfSB) and ecodesign, depend on stated responses to elicit underlying causes of behavior. Consequently, the outcomes of these approaches are susceptible to response biases. In this paper, a new revealed behavior based framework is introduced to elicit underlying causes of EOFMs and to propose potential intervention strategies to address them. We focus on uncovering two underlying causes that correspond to the intervention strategies: (1) high energy consuming habits and (2) lack of energy awareness. In the proposed framework, user behavior categorization matrices are formulated using a two-phase user study approach with a request to lower the energy use in-between the phases. Based on the observed behavior, each EOFM is matrix categorized on two axes of change and correctness. With this data, the matrices thereby indicate the dominant underlying causes of EOFMs. The EOFMs and proposed interventions can then be prioritized based on the likelihood of occurrence, severity, magnitude or a combinatorial strategy to suit the sustainability objectives. A case study is presented with seven EOFMs that are found in typical day-to-day household electromechanical appliance use including inefficient appliance setup, inefficient selection, inefficient operation, standby energy consumption, and inefficient settings of conditions. Lack of user awareness of energy and power interactions among appliances and household settings is identified as the key underlying cause of considered EOFMs. Potential design solution strategies are also considered to overcome the EOFMs based on likelihoods, severities, and magnitudes, respectively. Each solution strategy carries a varying level of knowledgeable decision-making required of the user, compared with alternatively designing into the product or systems restrictions on use.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):101103-101103-13. doi:10.1115/1.4034105.

Design principles are created to codify and formalize design knowledge so that innovative, archival practices may be communicated and used to advance design science and solve future design problems, especially the pinnacle, wicked, and grand-challenge problems that face the world and cross-cutting markets. Principles are part of a family of knowledge explication, which also include guidelines, heuristics, rules of thumb, and strategic constructs. Definitions of a range of explications are explored from a number of seminal papers. Based on this analysis, the authors pose formalized definitions for the three most prevalent terms in the literature—principles, guidelines, and heuristics—and draw more definitive distinctions between the terms. Current research methods and practices with design principles are categorized and characterized. We further explore research methodologies, validation approaches, semantic principle composition through computational analysis, and a proposed formal approach to articulating principles. In analyzing the methodology for discovering, deriving, formulating, and validating design principles, the goal is to understand and advance the theoretical basis of design, the foundations of new tools and techniques, and the complex systems of the future. Suggestions for the future of design principles research methodology for added rigor and repeatability are proposed.

Topics: Design
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):101104-101104-8. doi:10.1115/1.4034085.

When most designers set out to develop a new product, they solicit feedback from potential consumers. These data are incorporated into the design process in an effort to more effectively meet customer requirements. Often these data are used to construct a model of consumer preference capable of evaluating candidate designs. Although the mechanics of these models have been extensively studied, there are still some open questions, particularly with respect to models of aesthetic preference. When constructing preference models, simplistic product representations are often favored over high fidelity product models in order to save time and expense. This work investigates how choice of product representation can affect model performance in visual conjoint analysis. Preference models for a single product, a table knife, are derived using three different representation schemes: simple sketches, solid models, and three dimensional (3D)-printed models. Each of these representations is used in a separate conjoint analysis survey. The results from this study show that the choice model based on 3D-printed photopolymer prototypes underperformed. Additionally, consumer responses were inconsistent and potentially contradictory between different representations. Consequently, when using conjoint analysis for product innovation, obtaining a true understanding of consumer preference requires selecting representations based on how accurately they convey the product details in question.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):101105-101105-8. doi:10.1115/1.4034107.

Concept selection is a critical stage of the engineering design process because of its potential to influence the direction of the final design. While formalized selection methods have been developed to increase its effectiveness and reduce human decision-making biases, research that understands these biases in more detail can provide a foundation for improving the selection process. One important bias that occurs during this process is ownership bias or an unintentional preference for an individual's own ideas over the ideas of others. However, few studies have explored ownership bias in a design setting and the influence of other factors such as the gender of the designer or the “goodness” of an idea. In order to understand the impact of these factors in engineering design education, a study was conducted with 110 engineering students. The results from this study show that male students tend to show ownership bias during concept selection by selecting more of their own ideas while female students tend to show the opposite bias, the Halo Effect, by selecting more of their team members' concepts. In addition, participants exhibited ownership bias for ideas that were considered good or high quality, but the opposite bias for ideas that were not considered good or high quality. These results add to our understanding of the factors that impact team concept selection and provide empirical evidence of the occurrence of ownership bias and the effects of gender and idea goodness in engineering design education.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):101106-101106-11. doi:10.1115/1.4034221.

We propose a framework for design roadmapping that parallels existing product roadmapping and technology roadmapping processes. It leverages three needs we have observed in organizations as they use existing roadmapping processes: (1) to focus on development of customer and user experiences (UX), not just on features; (2) to increase engagement of designers early in the planning process; and (3) to provide a means for rapidly responding to changes in the environment. Design roadmapping is an attempt to reconcile differences that arise when customer/user needs are not considered simultaneously with technology choices. The proposed design roadmapping process assists project prioritization and selection. The process aggregates design experience elements along a timeline that associates key user needs with the products, services, and/or systems the organization wishes to deliver. To illustrate the design roadmapping process, we conducted a case study in which we applied the design roadmapping process to projects undertaken by a large corporation's innovation lab located in research centers in San Francisco and Mountain View, CA, in partnership with corporate stakeholders located in Asia. The five-step design roadmapping procedure is provided along with detailed information. The decisions from the design roadmapping process have been incorporated into the company's commercial plans. Key findings in this corporate case study bolster the positive impact of design roadmapping in moving strategic thinking from a technology/feature-driven process to one that is design/experience-driven. It shows how firms might weigh choices between user needs, design principles, and technological innovation.

Topics: Design
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):101107-101107-8. doi:10.1115/1.4034086.

Lead users play an integral part in helping engineers to identify latent needs of customers, and this approach has been used in a variety of ways within the design community. However, despite their close resemblance to lead users, do-it-yourself (DIY) practitioners have not been directly examined by the design community. A seven-step framework is presented where the first four steps resemble a typical design process and the remaining steps are relevant for the approach of identifying DIY practitioners as lead users. A case study from the hair care industry is presented to illustrate this framework. This paper establishes a connection between these two groups of customers and demonstrates how the insights of DIY practitioners, which manifest as latent needs for knowledge, can inspire research for the development of new technologies.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):101108-101108-12. doi:10.1115/1.4034087.

Concept generation techniques can help to support designers in generating multiple ideas during design tasks. However, differences in the ways these techniques guide idea generation are not well understood. This study investigated the qualities of concepts generated by beginning engineering designers using one of three different idea generation techniques. Working individually on an open-ended engineering design problem, 102 first year engineering students learned and applied one of three different ideation techniques—design heuristics, morphological analysis, or individual brainstorming (using brainstorming rules to generate ideas working alone)—to a given design problem. Using the consensual assessment technique, all concepts were rated for creativity, elaboration, and practicality, and all participants' concept sets were rated for quantity and diversity. The simplest technique, individual brainstorming, led to the most concepts within the short (25 minute) ideation session. All three techniques produced creative concepts averaging near the scale midpoint. The elaboration of the concepts was significantly higher with design heuristics and morphological analysis techniques, and the practicality was significantly higher using design heuristics. Controlling for number of concepts generated, there were no significant differences in diversity of solution sets across groups. These results demonstrate that the use of design heuristics does not limit the creativity of ideation outcomes, and helps students to develop more elaborate and practical ideas. Design heuristics show advantages in the initial idea generation phase for beginning engineering students. These findings point to specific strengths in different ideation techniques, and the value of exposing beginning designers to multiple techniques for idea generation.

Topics: Creativity , Design , Students
Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):101109-101109-10. doi:10.1115/1.4034088.

This work seeks to understand how design practitioners discover, select, and adapt design methods and methodologies. Design methods and methodologies are mainly used for educational purposes and are not formally transferred into design practice and industry. This prevents design practitioners from accessing the rich body of research and knowledge posed by academia. Various web platforms and textbooks allow users to discover or search for design methods, but little support is provided to assess whether or not a method is appropriate for the context or the task at hand. In this exploratory study, interviews were conducted with practicing engineers and designers. Interview responses were coded and analyzed in an effort to understand the patterns in searching, selecting, assessing, and exchanging experiences with peers in professional practice. This analysis showed that interviewees would like to search for design methods based on their desired outcomes. Additionally, interviewees considered their personal contacts to be the most valuable source of new methods. These insights show that web-based communities of practice may be a potential link between academia and industry, but existing web repositories and communities require further development in order to better meet the needs of the design practitioner community.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Mech. Des. 2016;138(10):101110-101110-11. doi:10.1115/1.4034090.

Applying previous solutions to solve new problems is a core aspect of design, and designers routinely use informal analogies to solve a wide variety of design problems. However, when the goal is to consider a large quantity and variety of creative solutions, relying on informal analogy recall may limit the analogy and solution breadth. This paper reports on work to identify the analogy connections that designers make during concept generation such that computational support can be employed to intentionally retrieve analogical solutions from existing systems. A study of the types of similarity that are commonly used to draw design analogies, and whether some types of similarity are used more frequently in compound analogy versus single analogy, was designed and implemented. The experiment consists of a design task and a follow up interview. Ten mechanical engineering graduate students specializing in design participated. Eight different types of analogical similarity are observed, and each type is equally likely to be used to form either single or compound analogies. Notably, the flow behavior was a commonly observed type of abstract similarity that helped designers notice connections across domains, suggesting the value of capturing and retrieving (computationally) flow behavior abstractions for the purpose of relating systems analogically.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In