Towards a formal integration of innovation in engineering design
Naim, Aziz Michel
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Innovation has been a hallmark of progress throughout human history. There are many innovative products that have had a tremendous impact on mankind’s quality of life. As engineering design matures into a field defined by scientific principles, there is a need for guidelines to help the designer select and apply appropriate tools and methods to support the development of technologically innovative products. There has been substantial research in the area of innovation, which is widely regarded as a powerful weapon to create competitive advantage within a given market. Significant work was also performed in developing design methods to support the development of technologically innovative products. However, the lack of a formal definition of engineering innovation within the engineering design community leads to methods that present themselves as a unique solution and are market/product specific. This research explores various definitions and approaches on innovation from an engineering design standpoint in order to first identify a fundamental meta-definition of engineering innovation that would assist engineers in (re)designing any products in order to be perceived as innovative by customers. Furthermore, few guidelines are provided to the designer as to when to use the available tools with respect to the market dynamics, making the use of these methods sometimes ineffective. With a general push for US companies to become increasingly more innovative, designers need to be equipped with adequate tools to enable successful and consistent development of technologically innovative complex systems. This research revisits the early stages of the design process by introducing a new method applying a novel way to model technological innovation in a complex system, that is aimed at assisting the designer in the selection of technologically innovative concepts.