Aerospace structural design process improvement using systematic evolutionary structural modeling
A multidisciplinary team tasked with an aircraft design problem must understand the problem requirements and metrics to produce a successful design. This understanding entails not only knowledge of what these requirements and metrics are, but also how they interact, which are most important (to the customer as well as to aircraft performance), and who in the organization can provide pertinent knowledge for each. In recent years, product development researchers and organizations have developed and successfully applied a variety of tools such as Quality Function Deployment (QFD) to coordinate multidisciplinary team members. The effectiveness of these methods, however, depends on the quality and fidelity of the information that team members can input. In conceptual aircraft design, structural information is of lower quality compared to aerodynamics or performance because it is based on experience rather than theory. This dissertation shows how advanced structural design tools can be used in a multidisciplinary team setting to improve structural information generation and communication through a systematic evolution of structural detail. When applied to conceptual design, finite element-based structural design tools elevate structural information to the same level as other computationally supported disciplines. This improved ability to generate and communicate structural information enables a design team to better identify and meet structural design requirements, consider producibility issues earlier, and evaluate structural concepts. A design process experiment of a wing structural layout in collaboration with an industrial partner illustrates and validates the approach. ^
Major Professor: Terrence A. Weisshaar, Purdue University.