Design Strategies that Work: How Engineers Use Sequential Decision Making to Improve Design Performance in Concept Selection

Mirabito Y, and Goucher-Lambert K. 2022. Proceedings of Design, Computing and Cognition Conference 2022.


Despite increased efforts to improve the quality of early-stage concepts, research has found that engineers often do not select the best designs available. Unnecessary time and money are spent when lower-performing concepts are selected and pursued within engineering design. This research studies the design strategies engineers utilize in completing a multi-objective concept selection task and their influence on design performance over task duration. Fifty-seven participants explored a design space containing 21 alternatives and gathered additional information about a subset of these alternatives through limited testing before submitting a final decision. Performance was measured via a quantified success rate, an experimental value developed in this work. Strategies such as isolating design parameters and prioritizing parameters improved design performance. In conclusion, there are clear strategies that engineers and designers benefit from using to guide their decision process. Future work will consider how these strategies are utilized within traditional concept selection methods.