Connecting design iterations to performance in engineering design

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Vrolijk, Ademir-Paolo; Deng, Yuanzhe; Olechowski, Alison
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Toronto
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 1067-1076
DOI number:


No matter a system's size, complexity, or domain, iterations are fundamental to its design process. However, there is a duality: iterations are both signs of usefully exploring the system's design space and failure to find an appropriate solution. This ambiguity means that we have not been able to connect teams' iterating behavior to their design's performance, potentially obscuring a way to influence the design process.

As such, our exploratory study unpacks the relationship between design iterations and performance. We observed 88 teams in the 2020 Robots to the Rescue Competition in rich detail. Using logs of 7,956 iterations on a Computer-Aided Design platform, we analyzed how high- and low-performing teams revised their submissions, searching for consistent differences in their behavior. We found significant differences in the iterations' number, scale, and cadence between these groups of teams. These findings emphasized the correlation between certain iteration patterns and the success of a design: the best teams will likely revise differently than the worst ones. It also showed the importance of a fine-grained, time-dependent view of the design process to resolve open questions in the literature.

Keywords: Design process, Design Revision, Conceptual design, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Multi-user CAD

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