Design work is transiting to digital media and computer- based tools. This has profound effects on both design work itself and the products of that work. For example, the design of the new roof on the courtyard of the British Museum depended utterly on digital representation and simulation. In such work digital data are not limited to designers-in buildings they are transferred between architects, structural engineers, fabricators and others. Firms employing new digital tools can gain real advantage in national and international markets. A major obstacle to progress is a lack of highly qualified personnel who understand both design work and the new tools. Another obstacle is an incomplete understanding, in both academia and industry, of how new design media can transform both design process and outcomes. The aim of the advanced design technology theme is foster industry and academia in using, adapting and creating new tools for design.

The theme will meet its aims by:

  • Conducting workshops for professionals and graduate students on new types of design tools. For instance, Parametric Modeling is a new approach that allows designers to more easily control certain variables or parameters of the design through models that can coordinate and update themselves. Such systems automatically update the entire model or drawing set based on changes as small as a joint or as large as the entire floorplan. Parametric systems are akin to a spreadsheet for 3D modeling in that they allow multiple alternatives to be quickly explored. The building design industry is in the very early stages of adoption of these tools.
  • Assisting in the placement of graduate student interns in key professional and industrial settings. For instance, graduate students working on design tools in their thesis work may both contribute to current industrial projects and discover new issues relevant to their work.
  • Communication with industry and advanced users to identify important research issues. In addition to workshops and internships, the CDRN will seek opportunities to share research with industry and to uncover new research topics.
  • Fostering focused collaboration among researchers on research both basic and related to professional need. For example, a current project involving several network members is demonstrating the potential benefits of ultra- broadband networks to the design and media industries.


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