Presidential Faculty Fellows Award: Development of Methods for Multidisciplinary Design
Christina Bloebaum Principal Investigator
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9553210 Bloebaum This grant provides funding for a Presidential Faculty Fellow Award. Research during the period of the award will focus on developing computational design strategies for complex, multidisciplinary engineering applications, aimed at addressing industry problems. Multidisciplinary Design (MD) problems are typified by complex couplings between disciplines which necessitate new design strategies that take these couplings into account. The major areas of research during the term of this award include: 'System Reduction Strategies' to reduce the size of the analytical models without sacrificing system accuracy; 'Optimal Sequencing' to determine the best ordering of the participating disciplinary subsystems to reduce overall computational cost; 'Decomposition for Mixed Systems' to develop decomposition strategies for application in situations where variables are of continuous as well as discrete type; and 'Coordination of Decoupled Subsystems' wherein coordination coefficients amongst subsystems must be quantified for use in decomposition strategies. Teaching objectives will focus on adding lab components to undergraduate courses, renovating existing graduate courses to include teaming and computational components, developing a new graduate course, developing a graduate Master of Engineering program in Multidisciplinary Design, and focusing on graduate training and mentoring. The successful development of the proposed methodologies could result in substantially improved processes for the design of complex systems, such as are found in aircraft, automobiles, naval vessels, high speed trains, and even power plants. In the traditional serial design environment, the cost of making a change increases by an order of magnitude for each phase of the design cycle. Due to recent competitive market pressures, it has become evident that for the design of complex systems, all requirements, manufacturing, and life-cycle issues must be addressed throughout all phases of the design process . This results in a shift of the knowledge curve, thereby yielding more knowledge about the design while the design freedom is still high. The increasing complexity of products requires new methods and processes to provide for this next level of integration. Multidisciplinary Design (MD) is recognized nationally as a critical technology. Only within the last couple of years have industries other than aerospace recognized MD as a discipline that can address many of their needs. MD has the potential to obtain substantial reductions in both development time and costs, as well as improved performance.