M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentFarbman Ido
SubjectParameter Analysis as a Methodology for Innovative Aerospace
DepartmentDepartment of Design and Manufacturing Management
Supervisor DR. Ehud Kroll
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Innovation comes naturally whenever a new industry, field, technology or invention is created. As time goes by, innovation is replaced by rules, regulations, standards and legacy allowing fast, orderly and well understood modifications and improvements to be completed as variants of existing products. However, the same legacy can interfere with creating totally new solutions. How to maintain innovation in a well-founded field is a major question. The thesis suggests that using the Parameter Analysis design method might be a possible answer. Parameter Analysis is an intuitive and iterative design method allowing the designer to perform the conceptual phase of design in a flexible yet systematic way. Using Parameter Analysis the designer is compelled to focus on key elements of the problem, understand the underlying physics and describe the design in a concise manner. Parameter Analysis is proposed as a design method and is also suggested to be practiced in engineering schools.

The thesis proposal claims that innovative designs in the aerospace field are often done by a design process similar to the Parameter Analysis method. The proposal is supported through a series of five cases demonstrating the use of Parameter Analysis characteristics in extraordinary innovations in the aerospace field. As the case study approach is not often used in engineering and in design research, much thought was given to building the research framework. Guidelines established for the research include criteria for case selection and for data collection and analysis. Pattern matching was used to show that the cases explored in the thesis were carried out using a thought process similar to the Parameter Analysis design method, and not by conventional design methods from the aerospace field.

The thesis begins with a short description of the Parameter Analysis design method, its characteristics, comparison with some other research methods, and explanations of the reasons for selecting case study research as the approach for this investigation. The cases studied are an unusual looking asymmetric plane, a human powered air vehicle weighing 70 lb., the first vehicle to win the X-prize by going to space, a unique bomb developed during WWII and contemporary unique solution for store release from an aircraft.

The thesis identifies 10 characteristics of Parameter Analysis: 3-step process, iterative nature, alternating spaces, parameter identification, constant evaluation, "Bag of tricks", backtracking, minimalistic configuration, basic physics and steepest development. The cases are reconstructed to expose the design process characteristics. In each case study, at least five characteristics were identified, supporting that the cases design process indeed followed the Parameter Analysis method. Three characteristics were found to be a dominant part of the cases design process, parameter identification and 3-step process (demonstrated in all case studies), and basic physics (demonstrated in four of the five case studies). The steepest development characteristic appeared in three out of the five investigated cases, suggesting that the Parameter Analysis method is an effective design process.