Engineering Design Research and Product Service Systems (Sabbatical at MIT)


CALL: 2012

DOMAIN: MS - New Functional and Intelligent Materials and Surfaces

FIRST NAME: Lucienne

LAST NAME: Blessing



HOST INSTITUTION: University of Luxembourg

KEYWORDS: Engineering Design Research, Research Methodology, Product Service Systems, Functional Modelling, research and teaching

START: 2013-01-15



Submitted Abstract

The visit for which support is requested will take place at the Mechanical Engineering Department of MIT, where I have been awarded the Peabody Visiting Professorship (see attachment). RESEARCHThe visit will focus on design research methodology and product service systems. The topic of a methodology to support design research has seen an increasing interest within the design research community. No established methodology exists yet, many questions are still unanswered and – unfortunately – many of the research endeavours lack rigour. The focus will be on the evaluation of the output of design research: design support in the form of methods, guidelines and methodologies. While writing the respective chapter in my book “DRM – a design research methodology” [1], and during the Summerschools on Engineering Design Research, the need for more research in this area has become apparent [2, 3]. The development of product-service systems (or functional products) is another topic gaining momentum in the research community. Product-service systems (PSS) is a concept integrating products and services in planning, development and delivery, covering the whole lifecycle. Since several years researchers focus on the integration of products and services from engineering, economic and social viewpoints. PSS have in particular been linked tightly to sustainable development or eco-design [4, 5, 6]. The basic idea of PSS is to sell the customer a defined result, a system’s availability or functionality to add value [7]. Generally, risks, responsibilities and costs of the PSS are distributed among various stakeholders. My particular interest is its inherent interdisciplinarity and its potentially very powerful systemic view on product development, in particular in the early phases. The visit should result in joint publications and possibly joint projects.TEACHING The visit will also involve teaching. A graduate class (Master and PhD) on design research is planned, which should include two options: exercises related to research projects for those doing design research, and readings for those not (yet) doing design research. The intention is to involve the Department of Architecture, as they too develop complex (product-service) systems but traditionally address research in a different way, e.g. through a design (design-as-research) or through reflection and criticism on the work of an architect as research. Involvement in MIT’s undergraduate design projects is also planned, which will contribute to the new Master in Sustainable Product Creation currently under development at the University of Luxembourg.

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