Department of Design Engineering: Profile and Focus on New Research Areas

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1 Department of Design Engineering: Profile and Focus on New Research Areas The department of Design Engineering will be recruiting new full professors in order to focus its scientific coverage of the rapidly evolving discipline of design engineering. The new positions will be both full and part-time. This will enable the department to realise its ambition of devising new and improved ways to incorporate key emerging technologies into product (and service) engineering processes, and to feed this new knowledge into the Bachelor s, Master s and PhD programmes. The Department s Vision on Design Engineering A Rapidly Changing Society Design engineering is often seen as a linear process, by which customer demands are translated into products and services. Traditionally, this process has been characterised by logical, step-by-step changes in a predictable cause-and-effect pattern. The world is changing rapidly, however. Nowadays, consumers, producers and designers are all connected, regardless of their time zones or locations. This is accelerating the speed at which people learn and desires and behaviour are changing. Also, the increasing complexity of society is transforming the ways in which we perceive, use, and are affected by technology. While these changes might be obvious, they are not yet well understood. Technology is becoming more than just an enabler to enhance human life. Increasingly, technology nestles in people and among people, has knowledge about people, and can more and more act as people. A Rapidly Changing Market Due to their connectedness, consumers areincreasingly becoming producers (or prosumers or codesigners ). They are now involved in the development of beta-versions of new products, which are launched in small test markets to learn about market needs. Flexible design enables us to make customised products, whether these are tailored to the masses or to individuals. Products that used to be regarded as unfinished are now perceived as ready to try. In short, consumers are willing even eager to participate in making new products or services. The era of mass production seems to be entering a new phase. While engineering processes used to think sequentially, and manufacturers and markets were well-defined and self-contained entities, society and with it, potential new markets can develop exponentially and unpredictably. Notions of control, predictability, certainty and influence no longer suffice to describe reality. In response to the increasing complexity of society, industry and design engineering need to become much more agile, open, adaptable, and multi-contextual. We need to understand how to make use of complexity and uncertainty, even embrace it, in the engineering process. Opportunities for Connectedness In itself, embracing different perspectives and developing alternative processes are not new to the design process. However, the current degree of social connectedness and the pace at which developments are taking place, mean that we can now attain a degree of complexity in the engineering process that was never achievable in the past. That is to say, while connectedness creates complexity, the same connectedness enables us to deal with it. We can fight complexity with complexity. A Flexible Design Process In order to make the design engineering process more flexible and responsive, the ability of rapid prototyping, adapting and learning during the design process is essential. Therefore, at the department of Design Engineering, we should be focusing on those technologies that make the design process more responsive and adaptive. We need to investigate the elements that actively interact with the context in such a way that feedback and feed-forward loops can be seamlessly embedded in the design and production process. We need to embrace flexibility, which enables freedom of thinking, architecture, material, form and function. In short: we need a flexible design process. 1

2 An Integrated Approach In view of the above, the department of Design Engineering needs professors who share this complexityrelated perspective on design engineering, and who take an integrated approach to the systemic architecture of future products and services. In addition, we need professors with specific areas of expertise. First, the department needs expertise on technologies that are enablers for evolving design, whether at the level of emerging materials, artefacts (such as mechatronics), networked artefacts (which use the services of the Internet of Things), or socialised networked artefacts and humans (cyber-physical systems). Second, as a result of our increased connectedness, manufacturing and production methods are changing rapidly: there is a shift from central production lines, which use cheap labour, to localised networked production lines producing networked and personalised products or artefacts. This is another research area that we believe needs to be explored by the department of Design Engineering. Furthermore, as we aim to develop knowledge that will contribute to meeting societal challenges, we need to expand our knowledge on sustainability and broaden it with research on the circular economy. In addition to the research areas mentioned above, the department needs inspiring education, ideally in combination with a (part-time) chair of professional practice. Transforming emerging technologies into evolving design engineering is not only a scientific challenge, but also an essential part of the education of future designers. This chair of professional practice will be in Product Architecture Design and will mainly focus on the Bachelor s education programme. In sum, we propose that a number of chairs be created that share the notion of complexity and regard the engineering process in an integrated way. Each will contribute a different area of expertise relating to one, or a combination, of the research areas described below. All of the full professors and their teams will thus design products and services in a way that uses and builds upon their own expertise, while at the same time drawing on the expertise of colleagues in the department and faculty, if and when required. This is a tentative description of the future direction of the department of Design Engineering, as there will be room for a more specific direction to be developed by the new team of full professors. Research Areas of Design Engineering 2

3 Research Areas Cyber-physical Systems In the near future, many product-service combinations will be implemented as open cyber-physical systems. These will enable problem-solving, autonomous decision-making and adaptability to users needs, and offer situational awareness and context sensitivity. These systems intensively interact with each other and their environments, but they also penetrate into the social domains of communities and the cognitive domains of individuals. This research will focus on the synthesis of hardware, software and cyberware, for use in diverse contexts ranging from e.g. medical rehabilitation to greenhouses. It will cover various sensing, actuation, reasoning, and cognitive technologies. The aim will be to develop design principles by integrating the available technological and social knowledge in other faculties and sections. The focus will be on the design modelling of complex systems, tools and methodology development. Case studies, and industrial applications and prototypes will demonstrate the new and transformative possibilities of these cyber-physical systems. The Internet of Things The current trend towards globalisation is having a pull effect, whereas current computing and communication technologies are having a push effect on the formation of a networked society. The Internet of Things creates an infrastructure (extendable platform) for physical and virtual connectivity, which will be extended to future products. The Internet of Things allows everyday objects to be connected, providing opportunities for big data exploration, data management in distributed systems, and data mining in context. The research in this domain will study communication technologies that are both fixed and ad hoc, and both wired and wireless. It will explore new opportunities for designing networked products, using data repositories, smart agents and adaptive information appliances. As such, it is an essential support for the research in various other areas, notably into cyber-physical systems. Mechatronics Mechatronics focuses on the advancement of technologies, autonomous products for sustainable wellbeing, and the improvement of user productivity. Emerging technologies including mechanics, electronics, photonics, sensors, actuators, digital measurement and control systems, and embedded software are developed in order to achieve the simplest technological solutions, an optimal architecture, and the most reliable forms of production. Mechatronics enables us to optimise a product s behaviour in terms of its learning ability, usability, and reliability. Research in Mechatronics will aim to achieve an optimal architecture of functionalities for products and product systems. This approach will bridge the gap between user-centred design and the push effects of technology. Key research areas will include robotics and additive manufacturing with the integration of electronics and sensors. Advanced Manufacturing Advanced Manufacturing focuses on improving methods, processes and knowledge that amplify productivity. One particular development that may counteract the off-shoring trend, for example, is the increasing desire for personalised products. Here, local players have an advantage over far-away competitors, as flexible production takes place rapidly after manufacturing, in the vicinity of the application of the service or product. Implementations include networked digital manufacturing, systems of networked products, and smart factories that make optimal use of workers. Scientific topics include horizontal integration of the value chain (who does what where?), engineering workflow (design, engineering, planning, service and maintenance integration based on ICT), vertical integration of networked manufacturing systems (smart factories that are run based on big data), digitalisation of manufacturing processes (robots as production tools ) and additive manufacturing (3D printing). 3

4 Circular Product Design As the intensive use of the world s resources puts unsustainable pressure on the planet, continuing our current linear patterns of resource consumption is not an option. Circular Product Design focuses on the development of methods and tools that enable the design of products that are used more than once (i.e. that have multiple lifecycles). This research area explores circular design strategies, such as product lifeextension, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling, and the business models that enable these strategies. The research tries to solve tensions and dilemmas in circular product design, such as between the energy needed for production and energy consumption during lifetime, and aims to generate knowledge on consumer attitudes and behaviour related to multiple lifecycle products (for example, how design can help to stimulate acceptance of new product ownership models). Design for Sustainability The challenge for design is to create products and services that are not just sustainable, but that also deliver better value in a dynamically changing business and user context. The Design for Sustainability research area explores new territories in design and sustainability. It asks, for instance, how sustainability can be successfully integrated into product development at the fuzzy front end, when not only the consumer demands but also the technologies involved are not yet fixed; how design can stimulate more sustainable lifestyles; what we can learn from frugal innovation; and how visioning and scenario-building can become integral to sustainable design. The development of fast-track life cycle assessment methods is an important part of this research area. Emerging Materials Advances in material science have always been strong drivers of innovation. The research in the area of Emerging Materials is concerned with the application of new materials in product design, targeting those materials that will emerge in the market in the next five to fifteen years. A first group is that of so-called smart materials. These are materials that can sense and interact with the user; for example, materials that combine touch-sensitivity with luminescence, materials that store and send information, and materials that can change shape. A second group is that of materials containing carbon nanotubes or graphene. In the coming years, the quality of these materials will improve and they will become more affordable, meaning that we need to investigate their potential applications in design. A third group of emerging materials comprises advanced bio-based plastics, as alternatives to existing fossil-fuel-based plastics. Product Architecture Design In addition to education, this chair will focus on the integration of both internally and externallygenerated design knowledge. There will also be an emphasis on the embedding of advanced conceptual and embodiment design of complex sustainable products and services. This will include product architecture and layout, functional principles, materials and manufacturing methods, and the modelling of product behaviour and performance. Setting At the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, we integrate knowledge about people, business and technology in order to design products, networks of products, and products in combination with services. As explained above, within the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, the department of Design Engineering focuses on emerging materials, modular and/or personalised architectures and system behaviour of products that enable evolving design, demand manufacturing and production processes, and integral sustainability. The department of Product Innovation Management investigates business model innovation, collaborative design and consumer behaviour in the context of an increasingly complex 4

5 society. Given this complexity and the changing trends in the marketplace, it is imperative to have effective collaboration between the departments of Design Engineering and Product and Innovation Management. At the same time, in order to develop new products and services to respond to this growing complexity in a user-centred way, intensive collaboration with the department of Industrial Design is also essential. This department brings in the people perspective by undertaking research on interaction design, positive design, persuasive design and social design. In line with the strategy of the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, the department of Design Engineering will drive the research programme on sustainability and the circular economy. Design Engineering will also provide technological input for the health programme led by the department of Industrial Design. Together with the department of Product Innovation Management, it will identify and shape opportunities to increase Europe s competitiveness in a globalised economy. The department of Design Engineering is therefore well embedded in the faculty and will develop effective connections within TU Delft, as well as in the 3TU Design United setting. In addition, the department will continue to work with groups in the faculties of 3mE, Aerospace Engineering, and Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, on the technological and design issues relating to robotics, mechatronics and software. The department will also actively build connections with other universities and companies, both in the Netherlands and abroad. Educational Scope Design engineers create interactions among new technologies and define their interface with society through innovative products and services. In industry, the design engineer is responsible for achieving optimal, technically-sound and successful new products and services, with a focus on sustainability, business, safety and societal impact. In addition, design engineers navigate efficiently and effectively through the arenas of emerging technologies, spotting radically new solutions and incorporating these technologies into new design concepts. The scientific challenge is to transform emerging technologies into people-friendly engineering applications, especially in view of the increasing diversity and complexity of the potentially relevant technologies, and of the applications and products themselves. The Master s programme in Integrated Product Design emphasises the transformation of technology, and focuses on manufacturing, materials, embedded software and technical performance issues. All of the department s areas of expertise contribute to the programme. The department is also involved in the Master s programme in Design for Interaction. At the Bachelor s level, the department is responsible for a range of technology courses. To equip our Bachelor s and Master s students for their future careers, the new professors will need to have inspiring educational capabilities in addition to excellent research skills. The new team of full professors will be expected to develop new and socially relevant Master s courses that are directly linked to the various research areas. 5

6 Utilisation In order to re-establish the department of Design Engineering and ensure alignment with both the departmental and faculty research strategies, a strong department head and potential future department heads will be needed to run the department. Furthermore, the department will need the capability to be engaged continuously in the acquisition of external funding and to lead projects. Research will be dedicated to both the development of technologies and their potential application in innovative product and service concepts. For that reason, each chair will need to foster relationships with scientific experts in the field at the international level. However, each chair should also operate at the application level by engaging in product design projects in the laboratories, other departments, industry projects, and in national and European research consortia. 6

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