The ProblemStudents, designers and engineers alike have poor function-definition skills.Language barriers in today’s global marketplace are a great incentive for better communication.Engineers often rely on visual methods to relay information that is difficult to vocalize, we are not so creatively handicapped after all!
Background Engineering design textbooks emphasize the importance of the early stages of the design process. However, the critical discussion to decompose and analyze the functions of a product is often lightly explored.Where else does a young engineer learn to develop such a skill?
Background✱ TRIZ, one of the most robust and well- documented problem-solving methods, which relies on many tools to match a desired solution to an already-solved problem.✱ However, this may be a hindrance to creativity and idea innovation because the open-endedness of a solution fades with the assumption that the problem has already been solved.✱ In addition, the many tools and steps within TRIZ can make the method obtuse and difficult to digest.
How does a visualfunction map look like?GETTING READY FOR WORK
Activity MapWhat does it take to get myself ready for work? 1. Get dressed a. Select outfit b. Change from PJ to work attire 2. Brush my teeth a. Put toothpaste & water on toothbrush b. Move toothbrush around teeth 3. Put makeup/perfume on 4. Grab lunch and purse 5. Walk out the door!
NSIT Functional Basis Text Map1. Get dressed a. SIGNAL (sense what I want to wear, measure stylishness) b. BRANCH (Body from PJ) c. CONNECT (Body with work attire)2. Brush my teeth a. CHANNEL (import water and toothpaste to toothbrush) b. CHANNEL (rotate/translate toothbrush around my teeth)3. Put makeup/perfume on a. IMPORT (beauty products to my face) b. PROVISION (‘store’ makeup and perfume to stay put all day)4. Grab lunch and purse a. CONNECT (purse and lunch to me)5. Walk out the door! a. CHANNEL (exporting myself out of my apartment and into my car) b. CHANNEL (transferring my car from home to work)
Coffree Map = Material flow = Signal flow = Energy flow
Why does this matter?✱ As an engineer, understanding the overall function of the product is key into finding effective and efficient solutions.✱ The time spent communicating ideas across languages, and the time spent clarifying miscommunications could easily be decreased by relying more on a universal ‘language,’ such as pictures, numbers, and symbols, rather than spoken languages.
ReferencesO Hirtz, J., Stone, R., McAdams, D., Szykman, S. and Wood, K., 2002, “A Functional Basis for Engineering Design: Reconciling and Evolving Previous Efforts,” Research in Engineering Design.O Kasai, T., Kitamura, Y., and Mizoguchi, T., 2001, “Ontology-based Description of Functional Design Knowledge and its Use in a Functional Way Server.”O Ookubo, M., Koji, Y., Sasajima, M., Kitamura, Y., Mizogu chi, R., 2007, “Towards Interoperability between Functional Taxonomies using an Ontollogy-based Mapping”, ICED 2007.O Pahl, G., and Beitz, W., 1998, Engineering Design - a Systematic Approach. The Design Council.