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Enhancing the design dialogue : an architecture to document engineering design activities

Conway, Alastair and Ion, William (2013) Enhancing the design dialogue : an architecture to document engineering design activities. Journal of Engineering Design, 24 (2). pp. 140-164. ISSN 0954-4828

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This paper charts the development of a system architecture designed to address the challenges associated with creating accurate and re-usable records of synchronous design activities. It begins by describing the context of through-life support of engineering products, then presents the Knowledge Enhanced Notes system development work undertaken and provides direction for future research work in this area. An empirical research approach was adopted for this work incorporating 11 experimental episodes, ethnographic studies and case-based evaluation of the developed system. The approach and development of the system architecture within this research build upon and extend existing research in the area of knowledge and information capture. The proposed system architecture is proven to enhance the record of engineering design activities, demonstrating that the implementation of software-based tools can have a positive impact on the creation of a more accurate and complete record of activities. This research is focused on one category of design activities – synchronous; therefore, future research that focuses on asynchronous working, leading to an overall enhancement of design working, is needed. While the focus of the research was to aid the creation and through-life support of large, complex engineering products, the solution is entirely generic in its application to synchronous activities.