Semi-Formal Representations in Support of Design Coordination

Eric A. Domeshek

This paper discusses a new sort of engineering support tool that directly addresses one of the major remaining sources of delay and error in engineering projects: the need to coordinate the actions of large and often distributed engineering teams. By combining now-standard web-based enterprise information technologies with ideas and techniques from artificial intelligence we have produced a tool that supports capture of design history and rationale, and then exploits the resulting dependency network to identify possible consequences of design changes and conflicts. The system can generate targeted notifications of affected designers, and supports on-line discussions aimed at resolving design difficulties. In addition to helping ease team coordination problems, this tool can also provide a solid base for proactive design knowledge management. A version of this system has been implemented, and the resulting Advanced Design Coordination Tool (ADCT) is available for evaluation and as a customizable product.

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