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Mapping Design Processes to Practicing Engineers' Perceptions of Uncertainty in Aerospace Design

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Aerospace Division Technical Session 2

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Paper Authors


Marty Mathews Jr. University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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I am pursuing my BSME from UW-Platteville, with an expected graduation in May of 2018.

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Antonette T. Cummings P.E. University of Wisconsin, Platteville

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Antonette T. Cummings is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville. She earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University. She earned her BSME and MSME at the University of Texas at Austin. She worked in aerodynamics and math modeling at Bell Helicopter for seven years, earning airplane and helicopter private pilot ratings. She has a Professional Engineer license in Texas in Thermal/Fluid Systems.

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Uncertainty is an unavoidable aspect of design. We discovered there are many different types of uncertainty in complex systems, however these can be condensed into a few categories. Significant research exists on epistemic uncertainty, but proper understanding and management of other forms of uncertainty are less thoroughly explored. We investigated previous research in the context of design to assist in better defining and understanding uncertainty. We conducted this research with the intent of designing learning interventions to improve engineering students’ ability to understand and manage uncertainty in design. From previous research we learned one of the most significant factors in successfully managing this uncertainty is incorporating teamwork. While there is significant research on the topic of design, and to a lesser extent uncertainty, there is virtually no existing research pertaining to the intersection of uncertainty, design, and teamwork. We used the qualitative research methodology of constructivism, and included sampling of a population of engineers that has a broader view of various forms of uncertainty in aerospace design. We combined this methodology with exploration of existing research on the topics of uncertainty, design, and teamwork, and compared to published works on various design methods. These tools were employed to assist us in designing learning interventions that could be taken into the classroom. These recommended learning interventions are in the process of being tested in a small setting, and with successful completion of this testing we will endeavor to begin introduction to the classroom on a broader scale.

Mathews, M., & Cummings, A. T. (2018, June), Mapping Design Processes to Practicing Engineers' Perceptions of Uncertainty in Aerospace Design Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30789

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