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An Expert System to Teach Engineering Students Sutainability and Creativity Design Method Selection

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Design Tools & Methodology I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.174.1 - 22.174.17



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Paper Authors

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Pedro Renato Acosta University of Texas, El Paso

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Rafael Gonzalez University of Texas, El Paso


Noe Vargas Hernandez University of Texas, El Paso

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Dr. Vargas Hernandez research focuses on engineering design creativity, ideation metrics, design innovation, ideation methods, cognitive psychology, TRIZ, use of smartpen, design education, computer aided conceptual design, design of neuromusculoskeletal rehabilitation devices and design for sustainability.

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An Expert System to Guide the Selection of Design Methods: Test-BedThe objective of this paper is to present the development of an expert system guide test-bed forthe selection of design methods to solve design problems. The authors observed that for seniordesign courses, instructors are faced with the dilemma of which methods to teach for a particulardesign problem. On one extreme an instructor can teach a plethora of methods with the urgencyof transferring the largest amount of knowledge to the students. This may resultcounterproductive since the students will be overloaded with information. Another extreme willbe to teach them only one or few methods; although this avoids an overload, the author’s haveobserved that most instructors do this, teaching just a couple of preferred methods. The premiseof this research work is that there is a lack of guidance when it comes to design methodselection. This situation is also reflected in the professional world where it is well known thatdesigners will stick to just a couple of methods in each category for the most of their professionallife. This is understandable because (1) the designer is familiar with the method, and (2) thereisn’t a clear guide to help decide which other methods to use. A test-bed for an expert system toguide in the selection of design methods has been developed at UTEP from which to build uponspecific guides. The ultimate goal is to help designers (students and professionals) understandwhat are their needs based on the design problem (initial sate, desired state, and otherconstraints) and provide them with method options that are appropriate while also explainingwhy these were suggested to help build their experience. The expert system will suggest theclosest methods matching the criterion, and also recommend if the criterion needs to be relaxedor constrained to expand or reduce the number of suggested methods. The characterization ofproblems and methods are two much needed contributions of this research work as well as themapping process which reflects the experience of skilled designers. Since this is only a test-bed,the objective was to prepare the system to accept the characterizations of methods, problems andmapping processes for a wide variety of domains. We foresee a variety of guides beingdeveloped for different situations, for example, ideation and sustainability. This research workhas two immediate benefits: (1) Ideation methods can be taught to students using problems thatare appropriate to the particular method (using the wrong problem-method pair producesfrustration) and (2) industry can be more efficient if they know what the best approach is to solvecertain problems. An additional benefit of this research is the possibility of identifying areas inthe problem space that are not currently addressed to existing ideation methods, thisdisconnection represents an area of opportunity to generate targeted ideation methods.

Acosta, P. R., & Gonzalez, R., & Hernandez, N. V. (2011, June), An Expert System to Teach Engineering Students Sutainability and Creativity Design Method Selection Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17455

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