The Design of Open Engineering Systems Lab

University at Buffalo - The State University of New York

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Toward a Formalization of Affordance Modeling for Engineering Design

Research Area: Research Publication Year: 2014
Type of Publication: Article
Authors: Cormier, Phillip; Olewnik, Andrew; Lewis, Kemper
Journal: Research in Engineering Design Volume: 25
Number: 3 Pages: 259-277
When developing an artifact, designers must first capture and represent user needs. These needs can then be transformed into system requirements or objectives. The contribution of this work is rooted in the formalization of the affordance-based approach for capturing user needs in the early stages of design. This formalization comes in three forms: the first affordance basis for engineering design (a defined set of affordances), a formal structure for affordance statements, and a new relational model structure. This formalization is intended to improve model quality and consistency, while managing model creation resources. Further, this affordance-based approach to capturing user needs imposes a level of abstraction that forces solution independence yet is capable of capturing the large range of user needs. As such, the approach provides a structured approach to problem abstraction—the process of specifying user needs without reference to specific solutions. This affordance-based problem representation relies on other design process tools to help develop the actual artifact, which is also discussed.