Optimal Design Laboratory

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Institution: University of Michigan
Director: [Panos Papalambros]

The Optimal Design Lab is dedicated to research in design methods and tools that improve the design process and the quality of designed artifacts. Our design process paradigm uses decision-making models to describe design alternatives, and mathematical methods that search the design space for the best design among all possible design options – the "optimal" design.

More recently our research has focused on design methods for large complex systems, including decomposition and coordination strategies, surrogate model approximations, product families, and integrated artifact design and control. In the context of a quantitative approach to product development, we study how engineering design interfaces with industrial design, art, conceptual design, artificial intelligence, finance, organizational design, marketing, and psychology. Application domains include automotive design, specifically hybrid and alternative vehicles, structural design, electromagnetic design, specifically antennas, and architectural design.

Whatever term of fashion may have come upon us over time to describe our research, our commitment has remained the same: to study design as a process conducted by humans aiming at improving the human condition, and to employ a pragmatic but rigorous approach as best we know how.


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