Supporting education and collaboration for engineering designers and industrial designers

4 Oct

CoLab is a wed-based design tool that supports understanding and collaboration between industrial designers and engineering designers during new product development (NPD). CoLab has been created with data produced during a Loughborough Design School PhD that was undertaken by Dr Eujin Pei and joint supervised by Dr Mark Evans (with a background in industrial design) and Dr Ian Campbell (with a background in engineering design). Translation of the PhD into the CoLab website was made possible by HE STEM funding and support from the EngCETL.

CoLab Interface

A key finding of the PhD was that differences in the language used to identify design representations by industrial designers and engineering designers was impeding communication and a taxonomy of sketches, drawings, models and prototypes was generated to help improve this situation. The taxonomy is a significant feature of CoLab and the use of carefully selected images has been devised to facilitate understanding of the activities of new product development with the intention of promoting engineering as a programme of study and career choice.

The PhD also identified differences in the ways in which industrial designers and engineering designer use design representation and, having validated the taxonomy, this was then used to collect data to identify how design representations were used by the two groups during four stages of new product development; and which design representations were used to communicate 10 types of design information and 8 types of technical information. This data was collected following interviews with practitioners in the UK and Singapore and presented in rank order as percentage of use by those interviewed i.e. the most popular appears at the top of the list.

The key features of the CoLab design tool are that it identifies:

– The design representations used by industrial designers and engineering designers during four stages of NPD
– The design representations used by industrial designers and engineering designers to communicate types of design
information and technical information
– A taxonomy of 35 design representations grouped into sketches, drawings, models and prototypes

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