Experiments on system level design
Ruder, Joshua Austin
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The goals of this study are three-fold. First, previous studies involving student design journals have indicated that engineering effort aimed at system-level design (SLD) issues can be associated with design outcome quality. This relationship will be empirically demonstrated in this thesis. Second, a SLD method is developed to address how SLD can be leveraged to improve design outcomes. Finally, a merger of educational and empirical research objectives to aid in the further development of design process research is proposed. These goals are addressed in the context of three empirical studies involving mechanical engineering students from Montana State University. The pilot study was developed as a tool to teach the process of conducting experiments and to empirically demonstrate the association between SLD and design outcome. The baseline study demonstrated the significant positive impact that the SLD method has on design quality. The follow-on study addresses detailed questions about how the SLD method affects design outcome. Based on these results a series of recommendations to inform education and practice are presented.