Research is about discovering new ways to use our resources, exploring new ideas that can change the way we understand ourselves and our environment, and finding new ways to approach the problems we face. The keyword here is "new", and it is this "newness" that makes what we do interesting. Through our research, we seek to improve the world by learning things that have never before been learned.
Current work at Stevens
My current research looks into the ways that we can use systems models to understand how to design more sustainable products and systems. This has led to four research thrust areas: Design for market systems, design approaches, multi-disciplinary design optimization, and policy modeling & analysis.
In the area of design for market systems, I am looking at new ways to model the relationships among designers, corporations, consumers, and policy-makers in order to understand the impacts of different sustainability initiatives. For example, if we want to decrease our national or global fuel consumption and emissions from automobiles, we need to change the ways that cars are designed, the ways that companies market and price their vehicles, the ways that consumers purchase and use vehicles, and the ways that policy-makers regulate and incentivize the market. Understanding these interactions can help us anticipate market system reactions and improve the ways that decisions are made.
Regarding design approaches, we are looking into the differences, strengths, and unique characteristics of the design methods that are taught in different fields, including mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, systems engineering, software engineering, and business management. As I moved from a mechanical engineering background into a systems engineering environment, I found that there are many commonalities and differences among the processes, methods, and tools that different individuals and industries use when talking about design. I am interested in reconciling these differences and finding more efficient and effective ways to do design. Part of this work looks specifically at approaches for sustainable design, seeking to improve environmental, social, and economic outcomes of products and systems.
Multidisciplinary design optimization is about designing complex products or systems where the models and tools used to analyze the system span a number of different disciplines. For example, when optimizing the design of an aircraft, we need to concurrently analyze the aerodynamics, structural integrity, and engine performance. This is particularly challenging because the design of each of these subsystems affects the performance of the other, and usually the subsystem models are understood by different individuals or departments within an organization. This research looks into how to support better decision-making throughout the design process in complex design situations and in other decision scenarios.
Policy modeling and analysis, from both a government and a corporate perspective, is a natural extension of these other research areas. Policies and strategies of different organizations influence decision making, tradeoff analysis, and market systems. When there are competing objectives among different stakeholders, I am interested in how decisions and strategies are developed, as well as how they can be improved. This line of research seeks to improve the ways that system models can help governments and corporations make more informed decisions on policy and strategy, using customized simulations that strategic decision-makers can use to test the impact of different policy interventions in a virtual environment. Some of the trickiest decision scenarios arise when there are competing objectives among different stakeholders, and we look into how decisions and strategies are developed, as well as how they can be improved.
Post-doctoral work at Chalmers
During my nearly two and a half years in Sweden, I worked to bring systems thinking into interdisciplinary approaches to design, with an emphasis on product quality and sustainability. This combines engineering models, decision theory models, economic models, and a systems framework to build an understanding of how different decisions with respect to product development and adoption will affect the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of the surrounding world.
Graduate work at Michigan
My graduate work at the University of Michigan (Ph.D. 2012, M.S.E. 2008) focused on simulation-based design optimization of vehicles for safety accounting for uncertainty, human factors, and market considerations. One case study looked into military vehicle blast protection, where the main findings contributed to an understanding of design trade-offs with respect to overall personnel safety from rollovers, fuel convoy exposure, and underbody explosions. Another case study looked into civilian vehicle crash protection, where the main findings showed how different crash test standards set by the New Car Assessment Program would likely result in changes to the vehicle fleet, crash events, and frequency of different types of injuries.
Undergraduate work at Maryland
As an undergraduate at the University of Maryland (B.S. 2007), I was involved in two research projects. For my Engineering Honors Program thesis, I used scaled-down experiments to better understand the dynamic effects of buried explosives on above-ground targets, with the intent to aid in the design of amphibious naval vehicle structures. As part of a three-year Gemstone Honors Program project, I participated in an interdisciplinary team project to develop a product and corresponding business around a novel technology for micro- and nano-technology education.