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A Method To Evaluate Relative Instructional Efficiencies Of Design Activities For Product Platform Planning

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Assessing Design Coursework

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.68.1 - 11.68.20



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Paper Authors


Asli Sahin Virginia Tech

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Asli Sahin is a PhD candidate in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on developing modeling systems that help designers to integrate engineering and management principles into conceptual design of products and systems. She received her M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech in December of 2005. She has experience and interest in adapting and developing computer-based visualization instruction models for education and training purposes. She is currently a member of Alpha Pi Mu Industrial Engineering Honor Society.

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Janis Terpenny Virginia Tech


Timothy Simpson Pennsylvania State University

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Tim Simpson is an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Penn State University. He received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in
1994 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1995 and 1998, respectively. His teaching and research interests include product family and product platform design, product dissection, and concurrent engineering. He is the Director of the Product Realization Minor at Penn State and is an active member of ASEE, ASME, and AIAA.

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Steven Shooter Bucknell University

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Steve Shooter is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Bucknell University where he teaches design and mechatronics. As a registered Professional Engineer, he also actively engages in industrial projects that involve product development or the development of product realization infrastructure. He received his BSME (1988), MSME (1990), Ph.D. (1995) from Virginia Tech. He has been a Process Engineer for Sony Music Corporation, a Faculty Fellow at NIST, and a Visiting Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

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Robert Stone University of Missouri-Rolla

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Rob Stone is currently an Associate Professor in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Department at the University of Missouri-Rolla. Dr. Stons research interests are design theory and methodology, specifically product architectures, functional representations and design languages.
He is Director of the School of Engineering’s Student Design Center where he oversees the design competition activities of eight teams and guides the Center’s new engineering design and
experiential learning initiative.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Method to Evaluate Relative Instructional Efficiencies of Design Activities for Product Platform Planning


Product Platform Planning is markedly different from the traditional product development process and a relatively new development in engineering design. Different than optimizing products independently, it requires integration of principles from both management and engineering design for developing a set of products that share common features, components, and/or modules. To present the basic principles of this new and different engineering design topic as well as current research on planning and architecting families of products, in our previous work, we developed an online resource, including, a set of three cases, a tutorial, and a glossary in a multimedia format hosted on the Internet. The cases are based on a family of product power tools. They present information in the form of function diagrams, assembly diagrams, customer needs and market-segment data. They have been designed to elucidate different product platform problems at increasing levels of complexity.

This paper presents a Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) model to evaluate the relative instructional performance of the first two case studies. The model involves four engineering students’ perceptions about the case assignments collected via survey methods. In the analysis, the instructional efficiencies of the case studies were defined in the form of a ratio of three carefully selected outputs (assignment appropriateness, clarity, and effectiveness) to a single input variable (assignment technical complexity). The DEA model has shown that Case 2 is almost twice as efficient as Case 1 with respect to the students’ experience with the case assignments. Presenting the concepts of function-based family design, component sharing, and modularity along with customer needs-driven approaches and decision-making appeared to be instructionally more intuitive and cognitively more complete for the students.

A major outcome of this research is an improved understanding of relative instructional efficiencies of the learning activities for product platform planning. This supports choosing the type of “what if” questions to be addressed in such activity creations. Furthermore, it contributes in terms of developing a relative measurement of instructional efficiencies of design activities with the simultaneous considerations of their desired outputs and input variables. Therefore, the proposed evaluation method eliminates assigning weights to be attached to each input and output, as in the usual index number approaches.

1. Introduction

Product platforming provides product diversity through shared resources at a reduced price by sharing components, interfaces, knowledge, production processes, etc1. Products that are “derived” using components or modules from the platform constitute a product family. Product platform planning (or product family planning) calls for the simultaneous, planned development of a set of related products that share features, components, and/or modules2.

Sahin, A., & Terpenny, J., & Simpson, T., & Shooter, S., & Stone, R. (2006, June), A Method To Evaluate Relative Instructional Efficiencies Of Design Activities For Product Platform Planning Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--945

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