Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Mocko, Gregory M

Committee Member

Summers , Joshua D

Committee Member

Ferrell , William G


An ontology of engineering design activities, called the Design Activity Ontology (DAO), is developed in this research. The DAO models 82 information flows and 25 design activities. These activities cover phases of the design process from conceptual phase through detail design phase. The ontology provides a formalized and structured vocabulary of design activities for consistency and exchange of design process models. The DAO enables design processes to be modeled, analyzed and optimized. The DAO is constructed using information flows identified in current design literature, commonly accepted engineering design textbooks, and an existing activity ontology. Specifically, the DAO is an extension and refinement of the ontology proposed by Sim and Duffy. The DAO addresses several shortcomings of the Sim and Duffy ontology including: (1) lack of computational representation, (2) inability to construct process models from defined design activities, (3) redundant and semantically equivalent information flows, (4) complex information flows, and (5) inconsistent classification. These shortcomings are identified through Design Structure Matrix (DSM) modeling and analysis, and certain protocols for the analysis of the individual information flows. A total of 112 information flows and 26 activities from the Sim and Duffy ontology are reduced to 82 and 25 respectively. The DAO is implemented in the ProtŽgŽ using the Web Ontology Language (OWL) and Description Logic (DL). The implemented DAO is analyzed using DL's subsumption property through the Fact++ reasoner. Finally, the DAO is exercised through two demonstration examples: (1) the design of a trash truck and (2) the design of an automotive tail light installation fixture. Results from the example support the completeness of the ontology; ability to formulate design processes; and identify 'dead-end' information flows, information flows required in design but not generated and critical information flows.



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