Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 18–38

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


  • Peter John Clarkson
    • Engineering Design Centre, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • James Robert Hamilton
    • GKN Westland Helicopters Ltd.
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s001630050021

Cite this article as:
Clarkson, P. & Hamilton, J. Res Eng Des (2000) 12: 18. doi:10.1007/s001630050021


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
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2000