Unifying Design Education through Decision Theory

William H. Wood
Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Baltimore, MD 21250, USA
E-mail: bwood@umbc.edu

Teaching design effectively is challenging. The state of design as a discipline leaves us with disjoint methods and methodologies that model various aspects of the design process but do not work together. This paper proposes decision theory as a means of potentially unifying design as a process of decision-making under uncertainty. A design exercise is described which strives to model the richness of a real design problem compressed in time and scale to a manageable size. Experience with this exercise reveals decision-based design as a promising pedagogical approach for design education. However, before we can use decision theory to unify design, we must first embrace uncertainty in problem solving throughout the engineering curriculum.


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