Cognition and the Engineering Design Requirement
Author: Darlington, Mansur
Supervisor: Culley, Steve
Institution: University of Bath
This thesis is concerned with the engineering design requirement and the process by which it is elicited, evolved and recorded. The experience of industry shows that the design requirement is an important part of the design activity. When failure in the capture process occurs and shortcomings in the design requirement follow, it leads to the design of artefacts that are unsafe, unsatisfactory, uneconomic or inappropriate. The purpose of the research reported in this thesis is to achieve a more complete understanding of the engineering design requirement, and to apply that understanding to the better support of designers during the design requirement capture phases of the design process. Two perspectives dominate the approach to the research. The first concerns the relation between the design process and human cognition. The research subject is seen as being fundamentally a product of the human mind and that such things as knowledge, language and meaning – the things commonly associated with cognition – are crucial to its proper understanding. The second perspective is informed by the view that the development of the design requirement can be seen as a knowledge-intensive process of communication. Thus, understanding communication between humans and some aspects of communication failure can assist in understanding and remedying failure in design requirement capture. Since the process is knowledge-intensive, questions arise concerning the content and nature of the knowledge needed in developing the design requirement and applying it in the design process. A number of disparate elements of the subject have been investigated. These include consideration of the process of design requirement capture as carried out by practising engineers; identification of the knowledge that is required in carrying out the process and ways in which it might be codified, shared and reused; and analysis of the conceptual and descriptive content of the design requirement. The findings from these different investigations have been drawn together in order to achieve the research aim of achieving a better understanding of the engineering design requirement and applying that understanding to the support of design requirement capture.