Towards a scientific understanding of the design process
In the future, many objects that today belong only in the physical world will gain an online existence as they are wired up with sensors, widgets and always-on network connections. From a design point of view, this shift expands the ways in which products and users can interact. But as the design landscape opens up, so does the range of technical skills required to create these products and the potential for unexpected failures as single objects become part of larger systems.
A scientific approach to managing the knowledge required for effective, safe design provides a way forward. Computer modelling will help manage design complexity, while automated analysis of data generated by products throughout their lifespan will help us to understand and reduce design failures. Today, we think of creativity as a uniquely human attribute, but as these tools advance, could a fully automated design process become a realistic possibility?
I'm curious about..."whether a computer could ever be a design engineer?"Saeema Ahmed-Kristensen
Prof Saeema Ahmed-Kristensen is Chair in Design Engineering and Design Methodology and Deputy Head of the Dyson School of Design Engineering. Prior to joining Imperial, Saeema established and led the Design Engineering and Innovation group of over 35 researchers at the Technical University of Denmark. She completed her PhD at the Engineering Design Centre, Cambridge and was elected Engineering Fellow of Edward Murray College.
Saeema's research focuses upon improvements of both products (including product service systems) and processes (creative, product development and innovation) through developing a scientific understanding of the processes. She asks:
- How can data generated throughout the lifespan of an object be systematically captured and used to improve the design of future products?
- What kinds of competencies will future designers need as products become digitised and agile and distributed product design approaches become commonplace?
- Could algorithms one day model the intangible attributes of new products, such as aesthetic appeal, to reduce prototyping and testing times?
Foresight and futures work
Future of materials science, additive manufacturing and design