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Origins of Design Principles: The Case of Nuclear Reactor Design Projects

[+] Author Affiliations
Aditi Verma

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. DETC2017-67437, pp. V007T06A038; 12 pages
  • ASME 2017 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 29th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Cleveland, Ohio, USA, August 6–9, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5821-9
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Through a cross-sectional study of reactor design projects, this work explores the origins of design principles. The analysis of in-depth, open ended interviews with reactor designers reveals that there are design principles of which practitioners are aware (self-aware principles), and those principles recurring across projects which designers implicitly use in their work (naive principles). This analysis suggests that the ability of practitioners to generate principles is a function of the development of the domain of design and of its particular technologies. Larger the menu of prior designs, greater is the ability of practitioners to generate principles on which to base future work. In closing, and based on the analysis of interviews with reactor designers, I propose a set of criteria for use by design researchers developing design principles for practitioners.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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