Professor Paul Grogan: Collaborative, Systems-Based Approaches to Design
There's more than one way to design a system. And sometimes the optimal design may not be the one that minimizes costs or satisfies the most requirements, says Stevens researcher Paul Grogan.
A faculty member in the university's School of Systems & Enterprises, Grogan's work focuses on information-based tools for engineering design, particularly in domains with distributed system architectures, such as aerospace and defense. In 2017, he received a National Science Foundation award from the EAGER (EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research) program — a special program for high-risk, high-potential research — to examine a systems design approach centered on value rather than strictly on meeting requirements.
Most systems engineering projects, Grogan notes, are managed using a set of requirements defined by a customer or key stakeholder. But “by setting up very clear requirements, you prevent yourself from exploring possible designs that may do better in certain dimensions,” he explains.
A value-driven design process works, instead, to maximize value rather than focusing on minimizing costs or meeting requirements. Characteristics that provide value on the system can thus become the driving forces behind the design process.
Building on a game theory model, Grogan's NSF-supported project will develop a mathematical framework to characterize multi-actor system design problems as sets of decisions and value flows contributing to strategic behavior.