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User Stories and Algorithms as Programming and Design Tools

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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

Design Thinking and Creativity

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Tom Elliott Spector Oklahoma State University

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Professor of Architecture, Oklahoma State University
Licensed Architect

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Stan Carroll Oklahoma State University

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Stan Carroll, a computational designer, has been practicing architecture for over 25 years, is an award winning public artist, and an educator/researcher. As a result of an ACADIA 2009 workshop on Grasshopper, Carroll transformed his entire design process to center on computational design and fabrication methods. Having recently completed a master degree in the Emergent Technologies Program at the Architectural Association in London in 2014, Carroll has returned to his undergraduate alma mater where he is currently an assistant professor at the School of Architecture at Oklahoma State University. He is currently teaching undergraduate design studios and Computational Foundations. In addition to his teaching and researching, he also continues his private practice pursuing large public art commissions.

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John J. Phillips Oklahoma State University

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JOHN PHILLIPS, a registered engineer and associate professor of architectural engineering, practiced as a structural engineer for nine years before returning to his alma mater to teach at Oklahoma State University. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses including Statics, Analysis I, Foundations, Timbers, Steel, Concrete, Steel II, Concrete II, Steel III, Concrete III, and in the Comprehensive Design Studio.

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Title: User Stories and Algorithms as Programming and Design Tools

In this evidenced-based practice paper the results of a process are presented that find useful connections between the qualitative goals of a project and quantitative design results through the incorporation of the “agile method” borrowed from the computer software industry. For buildings with a high performance need, the success of the project is often dependent on the design professional’s experience within a particular building type to assure success. Professional intuition results from years of experience during the creation of work and the subsequent understanding of projects‘ successes and failures. One of the core goals of the academy is to develop professional intuition within its students as well as give them the tools or processes necessary to build that intuition into the future. In two years of a capstone design studio students were tasked to utilize the agile method to establish qualitative project design goals by developing highly empathetic and well-focused user stories when designing a theater audience chamber in the first year and a working food pantry in the second. By segmenting the project into the singular aspects defined within the user stories, quantitative objectives were able to be assigned to each goal, simulated through computational methods, and tangible results collected which helped the student understand how well the goals were reached within each of their design schemes. Each design scheme was evaluated by the students through simulations formulated to determine how well specific aspects performed. As a result, immediate and automated feedback provided students with a clear understanding of how well each design performed in each aspect and offered possibilities of where improvements needed to be made to advance their design. Through this design-evaluation feedback loop each student’s professional intuition was advanced more quickly and the design performance of their projects improved. Through the adoption of user stories, a well-focused design agenda can be established and computational methods can be derived to both simulate and evaluate the design’s success and in the process facilitate the development of students’ design intuition.

Spector, T. E., & Carroll, S., & Phillips, J. J. (2018, June), User Stories and Algorithms as Programming and Design Tools Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31190

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