Original Article

Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 18-38

First online:

‘Signposting’, A Parameter-driven Task-based Model of the Design Process

  • Peter John ClarksonAffiliated withEngineering Design Centre, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • , James Robert HamiltonAffiliated withGKN Westland Helicopters Ltd.

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This paper addresses the need for computer support in aerospace design. A review of current design methodologies and computer support tools is presented, and the need for further support is discussed, with particular reference to the early formative stages of the design process. A parameter-based model of design is proposed, founded on the assumption that a design process can be constructed from a predefined set of tasks. This is supported by knowledge of possible tasks in which the confidence in key design parameters is used as a basis for identifying, or signposting, the next task. A prototype implementation of the signposting model, for use in the design of helicopter rotor blades, is described and results from trials of the tool are presented. Further areas of research are discussed.

Key words:Aerospace design – Computer-aided design – Conceptual design – Design guidelines – Knowledge-based systems – Knowledge modelling – Mechanical design