Prototyping and mechanical engineering

Horton, Glen I. (1997). Prototyping and mechanical engineering PhD Thesis, School of Engineering, The University of Queensland.

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Author Horton, Glen I.
Thesis Title Prototyping and mechanical engineering
School, Centre or Institute School of Engineering
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1997-01-01
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor David Radcliffe
Tim Holt
Total pages 226
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Prototyping is an essential part of a complete mechanical design process. It is described in the literature along a number of general themes either based on the author's Weltanschauung or anecdotal evidence. Despite this, the literature does not contain any in depth studies into how design practitioners use prototypes. This thesis uses a series of case studies of design practitioners engaged in the use of prototypes to develop a characterisation of the process. The primary data collection method was to take video recordings of the design participants' interaction with and around the prototypes.

A fundamental model of the prototyping process is developed based on the basic relationships between designers and a prototype device. When viewed from a learning perspective, the model characterises prototyping as providing two distinct channels for learning. The first is the original experience that an individual has with the artefact and the second is the communication with others about the artefact. This meta-level framework for interpretation is coupled with descriptive tools developed to analyse the moment-to-moment interactions as captured in the video footage of the case studies.

The model was able to be used to usefully describe the processes occurring within and across the contexts of the case studies. Important observations include:

• the participants' reference to prototypes in terms of what they are not rather than what they are.

• the inclusion of the prototype artefacts in the natural language of the participants in similar ways to those observed by research into the use of other design artefacts,

• the use of prototypes as a representation of a device to support the articulation of other representations, and

• the participants interpreting their experiences with the prototype behaving in the physical environment.

An integrated interpretation of the prototyping themes developed in the literature is developed. The implications of this model are extended to the fields of design practice, engineering education, design support tools and design research.

Keyword Prototypes, Engineering
Engineering design
Mechanical engineering

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 04 Oct 2011, 00:27:05 EST by Ms Christine Heslehurst on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service