Tuesday 12pm, 28 April 2015


Driving Early Stage Design Process through Design Representations

Maria Yang

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Systems - MIT


Product design and engineering are concerned with the creation of artifacts, from consumer products to complex, large scale engineering systems. This talk considers the processes used to create these artifacts. The impact of the very earliest stages of design process on final outcome is considerable, but its ambiguous nature makes it difficult to model and evaluate, and presents a fundamental challenge in design research. This talk focuses on the key role of design representations in driving the early stages of the design process. It discusses investigations into how the timing, type, and quantity of representations such as sketches, physical prototypes, and other models can be linked to greater likelihood of design success.

This approach provides an innovative means to assess both design process and the behavior of the designer. This talk further considers how design process is represented through language, and presents a novel approach to extracting early stage design decision-making. The talk will also describe research on the challenges of early stage design in the development of complex engineering systems, particularly in the integration of subsystems. It will conclude with future work in early stage design and thoughts on design education.


Professor Maria C. Yang is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Yang earned her SB in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and her MS and PhD from Stanford University's Mechanical Engineering Department, Design Division. She joined the MIT faculty in 2007. Professor Yang’s industrial experience includes serving as Director of Design at Reactivity, Inc., a Silicon Valley software company now a part of Cisco Systems. She has done research into collaborative design tools at Apple Computer and Lockheed. In addition, she has explored the user interaction issues for software design, as well as ergonomics issues of force-feedback devices for Immersion Corporation.