Understanding the Order of Engineering Design Research

I. Horváth

Abstract


Engineering design research manifests as a platform for exploration, description, arrangement, rationalization, and application of design knowledge. What we can see when we are looking at the research into engineering design is an almost chaotically fragmented picture. Is it possible to have a holistic view on the contents and internal relationships of engineering design research? This paper considers teleology, a reflection of a branch of philosophical speculations, as the doctrine of ordering knowledge of engineering design and structuring engineering design research accordingly. Teleology explains that the ultimate reason behind design is to sustain human existence and well being by virtual creation of artifacts and services for society. To this end, knowledge of engineering research is supposed to be transferred from the platform of scientific/theoretical exploration and comprehension to the platform of technical/pragmatic application. This implies a natural streaming of knowledge of engineering design. In order to make the teleological explanation operational, a framework of reasoning has been constructed by adopting the analogy of the source, channel and sink of a stream. To represent the source, channel and sink categories of engineering design knowledge, the author inaugurated nine categories in the framework. It has been hypothesized that the introduced categories are equally valid for research in engineering design as well as for the knowledge of engineering design. Within each category, research domains and trajectories have been defined. The proposed teleology-based framework lends itself to a better understanding of the disciplinary articulation and intrinsic relationships of engineering design research. It is hoped, among other things, to form a basis for a shared understanding, to make the influence of decisions on research programs more transparent, as well as to facilitate organizing subject materials for various design courses.

Keywords


engineering design research; teleology of engineering design; natural stream of knowledge; research categories; research domains; research trajectories

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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague