Ph.D Thesis

Ph.D StudentWeisbrod Gil
SubjectA Prescriptive Model of the Conceptual Engineering Design
Process based on Parameter Analysis and C-K Theory
DepartmentDepartment of Aerospace Engineering
Supervisors PROF. Yoseph Ben-Asher
DR. Ehud Kroll
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


This research thesis introduces a new prescriptive model of conceptual engineering design. The model is based on the method called Parameter Analysis (PA) and the relatively new descriptive model called C-K Theory. PA was developed based on observations of designers in action, while C-K Theory has a strong foundation in logic theory. The new model combines the benefits of C-K Theory and PA to overcome the lack of a strong theoretical foundation in PA and the insufficient prescriptive power of C-K Theory. The thesis describes in detail the process of developing the new model, which was similar to product development. It started with research clarification which included a literature survey, in-depth study of PA and C-K theory, formulation of the research objective, working hypotheses, expectations and success criteria, defining the R&D methodology and specific research tasks. The next stage was conceptualization in order to define a set of key factors and principles, i.e. the conceptual foundation or the "ideology" of the new prescriptive model. Next, those principles were integrated into a structured systematic procedure to form the new model, called ICE (Idea-Configuration-Evaluation). In the last stage, the new model was tested and evaluated in a design experiment by examining the performance of external participants when applying it. Two categories of success criteria have been planned: applicability of the process and effectiveness of both the process and its outcome. Depending on these two categories, a set of metrics (quantitative and qualitative) was developed.

The study's conclusions are that the new model whose correctness, consistency and effectiveness are strongly based on the widely-accepted C-K Theory (but also on a sound and rigorous research process, ongoing evaluation via analysis of realistic design problems, and an experiment that examines the performance of external participants when using the new model), presents a clear and concise step-by-step procedure, is conducive to teaching and practicing design, and captures the dynamics and rationale of the conceptual design process. Thus, the ICE model has the potential to facilitate creativity and innovation, as well as high-quality and viable conceptual design, with respect to the design requirements and other aspects.

The significance of the current research is in its contribution to the theory and practice of engineering design, eventually leading to improved design processes and better designed products.