The Engineering Design and Systems Engineering communities have matured significantly in the past half a century, and have made significant inroads in advancing the “science” of designing products and systems. The National Science Foundation has certainly been one of the catalysts and the fuel for this evolution in the United States, and continues to support advancing the field to impact positively economies and to help address the betterment of life for mankind. Engineering system design has embraced many of the necessary technical and non-technical fields needed to address design in a holistic manner, and several programs specifically addressing the interdisciplinary science of design have emerged. The ASME IDETC and the Design Society ICED conferences have brought the national and international communities together to exchange knowledge and a number of other conferences now champion design (TMCE, CAD, WCSMO, DCC, ICORD, INCOSE, etc.) Simultaneously, several journals have served the community, providing archival resources and a vehicle to share and advance knowledge.

In October 2015, the first in the series of system design-centric workshops was held at Clemson University with a focus on defining strategic directions for the community to better impact research and education.   This first workshop addressed some of the questions raised in prior meetings to provide an opportunity to discuss research directions, and to provide current NSF grantees the opportunity to share their work with the NSF program director and design colleagues.  A second workshop was held at Georgia Tech University, with a focus on how to make external stakeholders and funders understand the critical role engineering design and systems engineering research plays in advancing science and technology.


The third workshop in the series of Design Circle workshops, to be held at Oregon State University,  aims to start addressing global, real-world challenges and define the impact the engineering design and systems engineering communities can have on addressing these challenges.  Therefore the focus is on providing a mapping of research and education directions defined at the previous two workshops to solutions for global challenges to Designing Systems to Address Global Challenges.


Key Questions and Topics of Discussion


The major objective of this workshop is to have significant impact on the research we conduct in engineering design and systems engineering because of the unique challenges and opportunities of designing systems that address global challenges.  Such systems require designers to work in a context in which the artifact being “designed” is no longer under their control, but rather evolves through interactions between multiple/many stakeholders, effectively resulting in complex adaptive systems.  This unique context would clearly have an impact on the choice and characteristics of design methodologies because, rather than making decisions about the artifact, one would need to worry about how to  influence other stakeholders so that they make choices that as a whole leads to desirable outcomes.  To address this objective, the workshop will conduct discussions around the following topics in support of designing systems to global systems challenges:


  1. What are the greatest and unique research challenges and roadblocks?
  2. What are the gaps and unique opportunities for developing synergistic methodologies between engineering design and systems engineering communities?


To cover these two topics, the workshop will include panel discussions and keynote presentations from the research community as well as from key industry stakeholders to understand the global system design problems and challenges, include system design activities and elevator pitches to fully engage the research community.