The identification and emergence of constraints in engineering design projects

Andrea Goncher, Aditya Johri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The focus of this paper is on how constraints are identified within design teams and how the context of each constraint or a set of constraints shape team design solutions as well as the design development over the course of the project. Design is generally constrained by nature, cost, safety, reliability, etc. and the role of these constraints varies based on the context of the design project as well as the objectives of the design prompt. The identification and evaluation of these constraints differentiates design from conventional optimization when determining or selecting a solution and is an important aspect in studying how solutions evolve throughout the design process. Through an observational study of 4 design teams within the context of a course design project, we differentiate and describe constraints imposed by the design project and how constraints emerged as teams solved design problems. We found differences in how constraints affected the final design solutions that were based on whether teams identified them in the conceptual phase, i.e. appropriated constraints, versus constraints that emerged through team interaction and project materialization. By understanding how teams identify and leverage constraints throughout the design process and apply constraints in design situations has several implications for team learning and knowledge sharing for good conceptual design thinking and meeting design objectives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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