Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Exploring the Effectiveness of Providing Structured Design for the Environment Knowledge during the Conceptual Design Phase Public Deposited

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  • The fuzzy front end of engineering design can present a difficult challenge, and as such, recent engineering design research has focused on guiding and influencing the way a designer ideates. Early ideation can be especially difficult when attempting to integrate specific design objectives in product design, called Design for X (DfX). Some examples of DfX are Design for Manufacturing (DfM), Design for Assembly (DfA), Design for Function (DfF), and Design for Safety (DfS). In this thesis, I present three experiments exploring the efficacy of a structured Design for the Environment (DfE) design method called the GREEn Quiz (Guidelines and Regulations for Early design for the Environment) that provides designers with DfE design knowledge during the conceptual design phase. The GREEn Quiz operates on a web-based platform and queries the designer about their design concepts. The website then generates an end-of-quiz report providing structured DfE knowledge to designers encompassing a design suggestion followed by strategies to implement the suggestion. The motivation for this work was to understand the GREEn Quiz’s impact on embedding DfE principles during concept generation. Previous studies using the GREEn Quiz showed potential in its use as an early design phase tool. However, the work presented herein involves improving the quality of knowledge of the end-of-quiz report and retesting the GREEn Quiz’s efficacy for users with varied DfE experience. In the first two experiments, we studied the efficacy of presenting structured DfE knowledge to designers at both the expert and novice levels. Experimental results suggest that respondents with access to the GREEn Quiz produced concepts with evidence of more sustainable design decisions and higher solution quality scores when compared to previous respondents and control groups. In the third experiment, we studied the impact of varied DfE knowledge abstraction levels on sustainable concept generation. The knowledge abstraction was presented at three levels: Design Principles, Design Principles and Implementation Strategies, and Design Principles and TRIZ Inventive Principles. Experimental results showed no statistical significant difference in the means between respondents and the amount of produced concepts with sustainable design decisions and no variation in solution quality scores compared to the other two abstraction levels. This research encourages the consideration of downstream environmental impact knowledge during conceptual design, resulting in lower-impact products regardless of the previous DfE expertise of the designer.
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