An investigation of prescribed risk management practices in engineering design

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Lee, Benjamin David
Paredis, Christiaan J. J.
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In this thesis, a decision model for examining prescribed risk management practices in engineering design is presented. The decision model explicitly considers the effects that design decisions under uncertainty have on the overall utility of the design process. These effects are important to consider because, according to Utility Theory, the designer should make decisions such that the expected utility is maximized. However, a significant portion of the literature neglects the costs of the design process, and focuses only on the quality of the design artifact, or at best includes its manufacture when determining the utility of an alternative. When designers neglect the costs of the design process, they cannot make tradeoffs between the costs of the design process and the quality of the artifact. As compared to previous work in this area, the decision model presented includes the effects of temporally degrading product utility on design decisions. The decision model is used to investigate the impacts of degrading product utilities in products that launch later as a result of the duration of design actions performed. In this thesis, the decision model is leveraged to investigate two key trends in engineering design resulting from increasing temporally-based costs. To support the conclusions in this thesis, quantitative evaluations of the decision model are investigated for two case studies. The conclusions are additionally supported through evaluations of the decision model in boundary plots that visualize prescribed behavior for designers over varying model parameters.
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