We conduct research in the application of rigorous design methodologies to the design of artifacts and environments for people.

Keyword: “design methods”

Navigating the barriers to interdisciplinary design education: lessons learned from the NSF design workshop series

Evidence suggests that transformational innovation occurs at the intersection of multiple disciplines rather than isolated within them. Design—being both pervasive and inherently interdisciplinary—has the power to transcend many disciplines and help break down the departmental “silos” that hinder such collaborative efforts. Many universities are now struggling to embrace the curricular innovations that are necessary to […]

Two Lessons from a Short-Duration Design-Build-Test Activity

The Iron Lion Design Challenge is a design-build-test event held annually at the Penn State University Park campus. In addition to providing hands-on experiences for students, it is an opportunity for faculty to pilot new strategies for teaching design practice to students. Over the last six years two important lessons have emerged: 1) prototyping very […]

Considering human variability when implementing product platforms

Design for Human Variability (DfHV) is the practice of designing artifacts, tasks, and environments that are robust to the variability in their users. Designs often incorporate adjustability and/or offer several sizes to account for the different requirements of the target user population. There are several situations where DfHV can provide platforming opportunities that might otherwise […]

Limiting disproportionate disaccommodation in design for human variability

In the design of artefacts, tasks and environments for human use, the body dimensions of the target population are a critical element in spatial optimisation of the design. This study examines how the choices designers make affect the ability of different user groups to safely and effectively interact with a designed artefact. Due to the […]

Application of the generational variety index: a retrospective study of iPhone evolution

The generational variety index (GVI) helps identify the components of product variants that are most likely to require redesign in the future. These components can then be embedded with the flexibility required for them to be easily modifiable; the remaining components can be designed into a platform. This paper describes the application of the GVI […]

Techniques, tools, and representations for solving design problems considering anthropometry

The quality of available education, solution techniques, and tools for designers considering user body size in the development of products and environments varies widely. The objective of this work is to investigate the current state of affairs in these areas, propose new or improved methods and tools where appropriate, and evaluate these tools. The multivariate […]

Strategic product design for multiple global markets

Designing products for multiple global user populations has been the focus of numerous studies. Based on an understanding of the current state of knowledge, this paper outlines three broad top-down design strategies to satisfy varying user, business, and regulatory requirements across target markets, and to do so in a resource-efficient manner. The first strategy results […]

A real options-based approach to designing for changing user populations of long-lifetime products

In addition to robustness-related considerations, designers of long-lifetime products (e.g., freight trucks and commercial air- craft) must also account for possible secular and demographic trends and their impacts on the ranges of anthropometry, capability, and preference of user populations. However, the uncertainty associated with forecasts of these trends complicates the decision-making process of the designer. […]

Probability of user fit for spatially optimized products

This study offers a new method for understanding the likelihood of acceptable fit for users of adjustable products and environments and is a useful tool for aiding the designer in making decisions about problems involving human variability. Accommodation, which describes the ability of a user to interact with a device or environment in a preferred […]

A comparison of methodologies for designing for human variability

In the design of artifacts that interact with people, the spatial dimensions of the user population are often used to size and engineer the artifact. The variability in anthropometry indicates the fixed allocation of space, adjustability requirements, or how many sizes are needed to accommodate the intended user population. Various tools are used to achieve […]

Creating virtual user populations by analysis of anthropometric data

Anthropometric measures that accurately represent the target user population are essential to effective designing for human variability, yet the available anthropometric data are drawn from populations that are substantially dissimilar from the target populations for most products and environments. Many designs for civilians are assessed using military anthropometric data, for example, because the only available […]

Utilizing traditional packing methodologies to examine human variability design problems

People interact with many different spaces on a daily basis: subway cars, offices, restaurants, and classrooms are examples of just some of these. However, these spaces and products that are meant to make lives more comfortable and efficient often do just the opposite. This thesis utilizes packing problems more common to operational research and industrial […]

Modeling variability in torso shape for chair and seat design

Anthropometric data are widely used in the design of chairs, seats, and other furniture intended for seated use. These data are valuable for determining the overall height, width, and depth of a chair, but contain little information about body shape that can be used to choose appropriate contours for backrests. A new method is presented […]

Predicting 5th and 95th percentile anthropometric segment lengths from population stature

Designing for human variability frequently necessitates an estimation of the spatial requirements of the intended user population. These measures are often obtained from “proportionality constants” which predict the lengths of relevant anthropometry using stature. This approach is attractive because it is readily adapted to new populations–only knowledge of a single input, stature, is necessary to […]

Extrapolation of anthopometric measures to new populations

This paper advances a method of extrapolating, to target populations, inter-relationships in the anthropometry of an existing population database. Previous methods, including those that are based on using proportionality constants and those that involve developing regression relations, make use of stature as the primary predictor. This new approach distinguishes itself by accounting for the variability, […]

Standing reach envelopes incorporating anthropometric variance and postural cost

Standing reach envelopes are important tools for the design of industrial and vehicle environments. Previous work in this area has focussed on manikin-based (where a few manikins are used to simulate individuals reaching within the region of interest) and population-based (where data are gathered on many individuals reaching in a constrained environment) approaches. Each of […]

Optimizing vehicle occupant packaging

Occupant packaging practice relies on statistical models codified in SAE practices, such as the SAE J941 eyellipse, and virtual human figure models representing individual occupants. The current packaging approach provides good solutions when the problem is relatively unconstrained, but achieving good results when many constraints are active, such as restricted headroom and sightlines, requires a […]

Improving an ergonomics testing procedure via approximation-based adaptive experimental design

Adaptive design refers to experimental design where the next sample point is determined by information from previous experiments. This article presents a constrained optimization algorithm known as superEGO (a variant of the EGO algorithm of Schonlau, Welch, and Jones) that can create adaptive designs using kriging approximations. Our primary goal is to illustrate that superEGO […]

Adaptive experimental design applied to an ergonomics testing procedure

Nonlinear constrained optimization algorithms are widely utilized in artifact design. Certain algorithms also lend themselves well to design of experiments (DOE). Adaptive design refers to experimental design where determining where to sample next is influenced by information from previous experiments. We present a constrained optimization algorithm known as superEGO (a variant of the EGO algorithm […]

Multicriteria optimization in product platform design

A product platform is a set of common components, modules or parts from which a stream of derivative products can be created. Product platform design requires selection of the shared parts and assessment of the potential sacrifices in individual product performance that result from parts sharing. A multicriteria optimization problem can be formulated to study […]

A method for the rapid prototyping of custom contoured cushions

Decubitous ulcers (“pressure sores”) are a significant concern for people using wheelchairs. In fact, results published by the University of Kansas indicate that over half of those using wheelchairs will develop a pressure sore at some point. This susceptibility is due to the conditions under which these ulcers develop: shear stress and pressure work together […]

A parametric approach to the optimization-based design of compliant mechanisms

Several optimization-based strategies have been proposed for compliant mechanism design that do not rely on the experience or intuition of the designer. This paper demonstrates an optimization-based method wherein compliant mechanisms are modeled parametrically within an optimization and a finite element analysis package. Topological optimization is performed to minimize an objective function representing the fitness […]