Ph.D. Proposal Presentation by F. Scott Cowan
Wednesday, December 5, 2002

(Dr. Farrokh Mistree, advisor)

"Designing Microworlds: A Means for Accommodating Perspective in Product Development"


Imagine that you are engaged in designing complex engineering systems such as aeronautic vehicles, automobiles, buildings, computer technologies, consumer electronics or appliances. You are but one of many designers within a larger enterprise involved in this collaborative design effort. Stemming from your particular expertise, you bring limited perspectives to bear on the system under design while other designers employ their own unique perspectives. Designing complex artifacts and processes is a difficult intellectual task, owing to the involvement of numerous designers that each holds a different perspective of the complex system under design.

The aim in this research is to develop means that not only support designers’ dealings with perspective, but also exploit them in new and powerful ways for the purpose of improving product development. The main objective is to develop a coherent methodology for efficiently and effectively designing complex systems – one that accommodates the multiple and diverse perspectives brought to bear by an enterprise-wide product realization team. Achieving this entails: (1) developing a lexicon and taxonomy for describing perspectives, (2) developing a framework for encapsulating perspectives, (3) developing a representation scheme for modeling perspectives, and (4) developing techniques for exploring perspectives. Testing and verification of the approach will be accomplished through case studies featuring engineering systems.