The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 86 (2008) > Issues > Issue 1 > A decision support tool for multi-disciplinary conceptual design
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A decision support tool for multi-disciplinary conceptual design

Conceptual design is perhaps one of the most innovative stages of the design process in which about 70% to 80% of the project resources are committed. Decisions taken at the conceptual stage are normally the duty of senior engineers with experience in the area. It is therefore essential to ensure that the decisions made at this stage are the right ones, otherwise mistakes made can be extremely costly to rectify later on in the design process. This paper reports results of research carried by the authors in the University of Plymouth. A decision support tool is described which uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and visualisation techniques to allow designers from different disciplines involved in the design (the design team) to explore the search and solution spaces widely in order to shortlist candidate compromised designs meeting some of the requirements of multi-disciplinary design. This exploration can result in an agreed framework for further stages of the design. A major benefit of the research reported in this paper is the interactive use of the visualisation tool in exploring solutions generated by the computer. This assists designers in their decision making process. Yaqub Rafiq, BSc, MSc, PhD, CEng, MIStructE Senior Lecturer in Structural Engineering, University of Plymouth Martin Beck, BA, BSc, MSc Lecturer School of Computing Communications and Electronics, University of Plymouth