A case study on conceptual design of solar thermal collectors using a collaborative framework of engineering design and product design tools

DS 76: Proceedings of E&PDE 2013, the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Dublin, Ireland, 05-06.09.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Loumakis, George; Wood, Bruce; Birse, Fred; Burek, Stas; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Rane, Sham
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1: Glasgow Caledonian University, United Kingdom; 2: City University London
Section: Projects
Page(s): 308-313
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


The case study presented in this paper shows a project performed by undergraduate students of two UK universities on the conceptual design of solar thermal collectors. Such products are normally jointly investigated by engineers and designers to reduce their cost, while at the same time making them attractive to the consumer market in the UK. The project for students was constructed to emulate the real life situation in education. Although solar thermal collectors are a well proven technology that has been around for more than a century, they are still evolving. Designs are also changing to accommodate advances made with material technology, manufacturing techniques etc. Teams comprising of students from international product design of Glasgow Caledonian University and engineering design disciplines at City University London were physically distributed in these two locations. Various means of communication and an open platform for design tools were used by students. The different approach to the project by engineers and designers in performing the project, from the step by step analysis to the final concept of the product is investigated in the report. Designers appear as the driving creative force of the project, while engineers try to implement the designer’s vision into the working product. The outcome of this report highlights the need for effective communication between different disciplines and different physical locations in order to enable both sides to contribute within their particular constraints of the project. This experience based project aims to reflect the increasing trend for design and innovation teams to be located in different geographical locations. Furthermore it provides students with the opportunity to obtain learning experience which reflects this trend.

Keywords: Solar collectors, conceptual design, engineering design, product design


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