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Theses from 2023 2023.

Device Design for Inducing Aneurysm-Susceptible Flow Conditions Onto Endothelial Cells , hans f. foelsche, Mechanical Engineering

Thermal Conductivity and Mechanical Properties of Interlayer-Bonded Graphene Bilayers , Afnan Mostafa, Mechanical Engineering

Wind-Wave Misalignment Effects on Multiline Anchor Systems for Floating Offshore Wind Turbines , Doron T. Rose, Mechanical Engineering

Theses from 2022 2022

A Simplified Fluid Dynamics Model of Ultrafiltration , Christopher Cardimino, Mechanical Engineering

Local Nanomechanical Variations of Cold-sprayed Tantalum Coatings , Dhrubajyoti Chowdhury, Mechanical Engineering

Aerodynamically Augmented Air-Hockey Pucks , Madhukar Prasad, Mechanical Engineering

Analysis of Low-Induction Rotors for Increased Power Production , Jack E. Rees, Mechanical Engineering

Application of the New IEC International Design Standard for Offshore Wind Turbines to a Reference Site in the Massachusetts Offshore Wind Energy Area , Samuel C. Roach, Mechanical Engineering

Applications of Thermal Energy Storage with Electrified Heating and Cooling , Erich Ryan, Mechanical Engineering

Theses from 2021 2021

Design and Testing of a Foundation Raised Oscillating Surge Wave Energy Converter , Jacob R. Davis, Mechanical Engineering

Wind Turbine Power Production Estimation for Better Financial Agreements , Shanon Fan, Mechanical Engineering

Finite Element Analysis of Impact and Cohesion of Cold Sprayed Particles onto Non-Planar Surfaces , Zhongkui Liu, Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Design and Analysis: High-Precision Microcontact Printhead for Roll-to-Roll Printing of Flexible Electronics , Mehdi Riza, Mechanical Engineering

Jet Breakup Dynamics of Inkjet Printing Fluids , Kashyap Sundara Rajan, Mechanical Engineering

Ground Source Heat Pumps: Considerations for Large Facilities in Massachusetts , Eric Wagner, Mechanical Engineering

Theses from 2020 2020

Modeling of Electrical Grid Systems to Evaluate Sustainable Electricity Generation in Pakistan , Muhammad Mustafa Amjad, Mechanical Engineering

A Study on Latent Thermal Energy Storage (LTES) using Phase Change Materials (PCMs) 2020 , Ritvij Dixit, Mechanical Engineering

SunDown: Model-driven Per-Panel Solar Anomaly Detection for Residential Arrays , Menghong Feng, Mechanical Engineering

Nozzle Clogging Prevention and Analysis in Cold Spray , Alden Foelsche, Mechanical Engineering

Short Term Energy Forecasting for a Microgird Load using LSTM RNN , Akhil Soman, Mechanical Engineering

Optimization of Thermal Energy Storage Sizing Using Thermodynamic Analysis , Andrew Villanueva, Mechanical Engineering

Fabrication of Binder-Free Electrodes Based on Graphene Oxide with CNT for Decrease of Resistance , Di Zhang, Mechanical Engineering

Theses from 2019 2019

Computational Fluid Dynamics Models of Electromagnetic Levitation Experiments in Reduced Gravity , Gwendolyn Bracker, Mechanical Engineering

Forecasting the Cost of Electricity Generated by Offshore Wind Turbines , Timothy Costa, Mechanical Engineering

Optical-Fiber-Based Laser-Induced Cavitation for Dynamic Mechanical Characterization of Soft Materials , Qian Feng, Mechanical Engineering

On the Fuel Spray Applications of Multi-Phase Eulerian CFD Techniques , Gabriel Lev Jacobsohn, Mechanical Engineering

Topology Network Optimization of Facility Planning and Design Problems , Ravi Ratan Raj Monga, Mechanical Engineering

The Promise of VR Headsets: Validation of a Virtual Reality Headset-Based Driving Simulator for Measuring Drivers’ Hazard Anticipation Performance , Ganesh Pai Mangalore, Mechanical Engineering

Ammonia Production from a Non-Grid Connected Floating Offshore Wind-Farm: A System-Level Techno-Economic Review , Vismay V. Parmar, Mechanical Engineering

Calculation of Scalar Isosurface Area and Applications , Kedar Prashant Shete, Mechanical Engineering

Theses from 2018 2018

Electroplating of Copper on Tungsten Powder , Richard Berdos, Mechanical Engineering


Streamwise Flow-Induced Oscillations of Bluff Bodies - The Influence of Symmetry Breaking , Tyler Gurian, Mechanical Engineering

Thermal Radiation Measurement and Development of Tunable Plasmonic Thermal Emitter Using Strain-induced Buckling in Metallic Layers , Amir Kazemi-Moridani, Mechanical Engineering

Restructuring Controllers to Accommodate Plant Nonlinearities , Kushal Sahare, Mechanical Engineering

Application and Evaluation of Lighthouse Technology for Precision Motion Capture , Soumitra Sitole, Mechanical Engineering

High Strain Rate Dynamic Response of Aluminum 6061 Micro Particles at Elevated Temperatures and Varying Oxide Thicknesses of Substrate Surface , Carmine Taglienti, Mechanical Engineering

The Effects of Mechanical Loading and Tumor Factors on Osteocyte Dendrite Formation , Wenbo Wang, Mechanical Engineering

Microenvironment Regulates Fusion of Breast Cancer Cells , Peiran Zhu, Mechanical Engineering

Design for Sustainability through a Life Cycle Assessment Conceptual Framework Integrated within Product Lifecycle Management , Renpeng Zou, Mechanical Engineering

Theses from 2017 2017

Improving the Efficiency of Wind Farm Turbines using External Airfoils , Shujaut Bader, Mechanical Engineering

Evaluation Of Impedance Control On A Powered Hip Exoskeleton , Punith condoor, Mechanical Engineering

Experimental Study on Viscoelastic Fluid-Structure Interactions , Anita Anup Dey, Mechanical Engineering

BMI, Tumor Lesion and Probability of Femur Fracture: a Probabilistic Biomechanics Approach , Zhi Gao, Mechanical Engineering

A Magnetic Resonance Compatible Knee Extension Ergometer , Youssef Jaber, Mechanical Engineering

Non-Equispaced Fast Fourier Transforms in Turbulence Simulation , Aditya M. Kulkarni, Mechanical Engineering


Effects of Malformed or Absent Valves to Lymphatic Fluid Transport and Lymphedema in Vivo in Mice , Akshay S. Pujari, Mechanical Engineering

Electroless Deposition & Electroplating of Nickel on Chromium-Nickel Carbide Powder , Jeffrey Rigali, Mechanical Engineering

Numerical Simulation of Multi-Phase Core-Shell Molten Metal Drop Oscillations , Kaushal Sumaria, Mechanical Engineering

Theses from 2016 2016

Cold Gas Dynamic Spray – Characterization of Polymeric Deposition , Trenton Bush, Mechanical Engineering

Intent Recognition Of Rotation Versus Translation Movements In Human-Robot Collaborative Manipulation Tasks , Vinh Q. Nguyen, Mechanical Engineering

A Soft Multiple-Degree of Freedom Load Cell Based on The Hall Effect , Qiandong Nie, Mechanical Engineering

A Haptic Surface Robot Interface for Large-Format Touchscreen Displays , Mark Price, Mechanical Engineering

Numerical Simulation of High Velocity Impact of a Single Polymer Particle during Cold Spray Deposition , Sagar P. Shah, Mechanical Engineering

Tunable Plasmonic Thermal Emitter Using Metal-Coated Elastomeric Structures , Robert Zando, Mechanical Engineering

Theses from 2015 2015

Thermodynamic Analysis of the Application of Thermal Energy Storage to a Combined Heat and Power Plant , Benjamin McDaniel, Mechanical Engineering

Towards a Semantic Knowledge Management Framework for Laminated Composites , Vivek Premkumar, Mechanical Engineering


Optimal Topological Arrangement of Queues in Closed Finite Queueing Networks , Lening Wang, Mechanical Engineering

Creating a New Model to Predict Cooling Tower Performance and Determining Energy Saving Opportunities through Economizer Operation , Pranav Yedatore Venkatesh, Mechanical Engineering

Theses from 2014 2014

New Generator Control Algorithms for Smart-Bladed Wind Turbines to Improve Power Capture in Below Rated Conditions , Bryce B. Aquino, Mechanical Engineering


Design and Control of a Two-Wheeled Robotic Walker , Airton R. da Silva Jr., Mechanical Engineering

Free Wake Potential Flow Vortex Wind Turbine Modeling: Advances in Parallel Processing and Integration of Ground Effects , Nathaniel B. Develder, Mechanical Engineering

Buckling of Particle-Laden Interfaces , Theo Dias Kassuga, Mechanical Engineering

Modeling Dynamic Stall for a Free Vortex Wake Model of a Floating Offshore Wind Turbine , Evan M. Gaertner, Mechanical Engineering

An Experimental Study of the C-Start of a Mechanical Fish , Benjamin Kandaswamy Chinna Thambi, Mechanical Engineering

Measurement and Verification - Retro-Commissioning of a LEED Gold Rated Building Through Means of an Energy Model: Are Aggressive Energy Simulation Models Reliable? , Justin M. Marmaras, Mechanical Engineering

Development of a Support Structure for Multi-Rotor Wind Turbines , Gaurav Murlidhar Mate, Mechanical Engineering

Towards Accessible, Usable Knowledge Frameworks in Engineering , Jeffrey Mcpherson, Mechanical Engineering

A Consistent Algorithm for Implementing the Space Conservation Law , Venkata Pavan Pillalamarri Narasimha Rao, Mechanical Engineering

Kinetics of Aluminization and Homogenization in Wrought H-X750 Nickel-Base Superalloy , Sean Reilly, Mechanical Engineering

Single-Phase Turbulent Enthalpy Transport , Bradley J. Shields, Mechanical Engineering

CFD Simulation of the Flow around NREL Phase VI Wind Turbine , Yang Song, Mechanical Engineering

Selection of Outputs for Distributed Parameter Systems by Identifiability Analysis in the Time-scale Domain , Teergele, Mechanical Engineering

The Optimization of Offshore Wind Turbine Towers Using Passive Tuned Mass Dampers , Onur Can Yilmaz, Mechanical Engineering

Design of a Passive Exoskeleton Spine , Haohan Zhang, Mechanical Engineering


Theses from 2013 2013

Optimization of Mixing in a Simulated Biomass Bed Reactor with a Center Feeding Tube , Michael T. Blatnik, Mechanical Engineering

Continued Development of a Chilled Water System Analysis Tool for Energy Conservation Measures Evaluation , Ghanshyam Gaudani, Mechanical Engineering

Application of Finite Element Method in Protein Normal Mode Analysis , Chiung-fang Hsu, Mechanical Engineering

Asymmetric Blade Spar for Passive Aerodynamic Load Control , Charles Mcclelland, Mechanical Engineering

Background and Available Potential Energy in Numerical Simulations of a Boussinesq Fluid , Shreyas S. Panse, Mechanical Engineering

Techno-Economic Analysis of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Systems Used as an Electricity Storage Technology in a Wind Farm with Large Amounts of Intermittent Energy , Yash Sanghai, Mechanical Engineering

Multi Rotor Wind Turbine Design And Cost Scaling , Preeti Verma, Mechanical Engineering

Activity Intent Recognition of the Torso Based on Surface Electromyography and Inertial Measurement Units , Zhe Zhang, Mechanical Engineering

Theses from 2012 2012

Simulations of Non-Contact Creep in Regimes of Mixed Dominance , Maija Benitz, Mechanical Engineering

Techniques for Industrial Implementation of Emerging Semantic Technologies , Jay T. Breindel, Mechanical Engineering

Environmental Impacts Due to Fixed and Floating Offshore Wind Turbines , Micah K. Brewer, Mechanical Engineering

Physical Model of the Feeding Strike of the Mantis Shrimp , Suzanne M. Cox, Mechanical Engineering

Investigating the Relationship Between Material Property Axes and Strain Orientations in Cebus Apella Crania , Christine M. Dzialo, Mechanical Engineering

A Multi-Level Hierarchical Finite Element Model for Capillary Failure in Soft Tissue , Lu Huang, Mechanical Engineering

Finite Element Analysis of a Femur to Deconstruct the Design Paradox of Bone Curvature , Sameer Jade, Mechanical Engineering

Vortex-Induced Vibrations of an Inclined Cylinder in Flow , Anil B. Jain, Mechanical Engineering

Experimental Study of Stability Limits for Slender Wind Turbine Blades , Shruti Ladge, Mechanical Engineering

Semi-Active Damping for an Intelligent Adaptive Ankle Prosthesis , Andrew K. Lapre, Mechanical Engineering

A Finite Volume Approach For Cure Kinetics Simulation , Wei Ma, Mechanical Engineering

Effect of Slip on Flow Past Superhydrophobic Cylinders , Pranesh Muralidhar, Mechanical Engineering

High Speed Flow Simulation in Fuel Injector Nozzles , Sukanta Rakshit, Mechanical Engineering

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thesis design and engineering

Research methods in engineering design: a synthesis of recent studies using a systematic literature review

  • Original Paper
  • Open access
  • Published: 16 January 2023
  • Volume 34 , pages 221–256, ( 2023 )

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  • David Escudero-Mancebo   ORCID: 1 , 2 ,
  • Nieves Fernández-Villalobos   ORCID: 1 , 3 ,
  • Óscar Martín-Llorente   ORCID: 1 &
  • Alejandra Martínez-Monés   ORCID: 2  

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The relation between scientific research and engineering design is fraught with controversy. While the number of academic PhD programs on design grows, because the discipline is in its infancy, there is no consolidated method for systematically approaching the generation of knowledge in this domain. This paper reviews recently published papers from four top-ranked journals in engineering design to analyse the research methods that are frequently used. The research questions consider the aim and contributions of the papers, as well as which experimental design and which sources of data are being used. Frequency tables show the high variety of approaches and aims of the papers, combining both qualitative and quantitative empirical approaches and analytical methods. Most of the papers focus on methodological concerns or on delving into a particular aspect of the design process. Data collection methods are also diverse without a clear relation between the type of method and the objective or strategy of the research. This paper aims to act as a valuable resource for academics, providing definitions related to research methods and referencing examples, and for researchers, shedding light on some of the trends and challenges for current research in the domain of engineering design.

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1 Introduction

Doctoral studies have a long tradition in higher education systems (Bogle 2018 ). Doctoral studies are highly relevant because they are considered as a key for technical development and industrial excellence in developed countries. Normally, a PhD diploma is compulsory for pursuing and it is highly valued for getting involved in research projects in companies. The goal of doctoral programs is to provide postgraduates with competences for the generation of knowledge in a given domain. The means to generate knowledge depends on the area, being research methods and techniques potentially different, and evolving in parallel with the development of the domain. In young domains such as Engineering Design, the discussion about which research procedures and paradigms should be employed is still open.

Simon ( 1996 ), in his book The Science of Design ,  defined design as a search for an optimum in a space of alternatives that take into account the specifications and restrictions of a given problem. Hatchuel ( 2001 ) highlighted limitations of Simon’s position discussing that designing cannot be reduced to taking decisions among a bounded set because the number of concepts related to the problem and the possible number of decisions to be taken could be expandable and uncountable, not only due to human creativity but also to social interaction. (Subrahmanian et al. 2020 ) place Simon and Hatchuel’s approaches in a historical timeline that describes different models of how designing is understood, evidencing the challenges for research design as a discipline that defines a common language that includes the impact of context and users in designing, in addition to the problems.. Probably due to the youth of design as a research discipline, or due to its socio-technical nature, it does not yet have a consolidated research methods and techniques. Blessing and Chakrabarti ( 2009 ) proposed the DRM (Design Research Methodology) motivated by “ frustration about the lack of a common terminology, benchmarked research method and a common research methodology in design”. Through the analysis of recent research papers, this work has the aim to confirm how these visions about research in engineering design are projected in current state-of-the-art publications.

Since the work of Blessing and Chakrabarti, there have been some relevant proposals that have shed light on different aspects of the global design research landscape. Koskinen et al. ( 2011 ) proposed the term ‘constructive design research’ and presented alternatives to integrate research within the practice of design. Joost et al. ( 2016 ) used the term ‘design as research’ in a volume that compiled discourses of experts about questions on design research and its relationship with other disciplines. Vaughan ( 2017 ) presented a survey that collected different points of view related to doctoral education in the opinions of design graduates about practice-based research design. Redström ( 2017 ) presented an essay about how to develop theory -knowledge- by practice, experimentation and making -design. These works are a multi-faceted compendium of practical experiences and visions of experts on how to perform activities related to research in the domain of design. Although many examples and discussions presented in the cited books focus on the topic of research through/by design, rather than on research in engineering design, all of them agree on the relevance of research into the design due to the increasing number of PhD programs that could benefit from background knowledge about this topic. In this paper, we present an alternative approach to shed light on the relations between research and design: instead of collecting the personal visions of experts, we summarise and classify research papers on research in Engineering Design in terms of aims and contributions, methods and approaches, data collection techniques, and research instruments used for the collection of data. To this end, we have carried out a systematic review of the literature on research in engineering design. The overarching research question (RQ) that drives the review is: What is the current landscape of research methods in engineering design?

Access to doctoral studies normally requires candidates to have a Master’s degree in which they have taken courses about research methodologies. Doctoral studies normally culminate with the defense of a PhD thesis in which postgraduates have to show their capabilities to generate knowledge in a specific field. Submitting a PhD thesis that includes activities previously reviewed in scientific journals is generally considered as a quality warranty of the research performed by the student. Although publishing journal papers is not the only way to assess the excellence of the research work performed in a PhD thesis, the quasi-exponential increase of scientific publications we are witnessing (Tenopir and King 2014 ) indicates that it is probably becoming a universal standard for rating the quality of research. Therefore, being aware of the kind of works published in scientific journals related to engineering design could be of outstanding importance for scholars who have to configure the contents of the courses related to research methodologies in this field, as well as for PhD supervisors and students to focalize efforts for being more productive in terms of publications. The analysis of scientific papers about research in engineering design performed presented in this paper aims to contribute to this aim.

There are many possible ways to analyse, categorise or classify research works because there are many dimensions of analysis. Creswell ( 2009 ) presents a classical distinction between (1) quantitative, (2) qualitative and (3) mixed-methods (combining qualitative and quantitative research methods). For quantitative methods experimental designs, non-experimental design are distinguished. For qualitative, narrative research, ethnographic research, phenomenological research, grounded theory and case study research are distinguished. For mixed-methods, sequential, concurrent and transformative methods are distinguished. Blessing and Chakrabarti ( 2009 ) identified the following ones: (1) paradigm, that includes empiricism (Randolph 2003 ; Solomon 2007 ) and ethno-methodology (Atkinson 1988 ), methodologies, theories, views and assumptions (Kothari 2004 ); (2) aim, research questions and hypotheses; (3) nature of the study, including observational vs interventional (Thiese 2014 ), comparative vs non-comparative; (4) units of analysis; (5) data collection methods including recordings, interview, questionnaires (De Leeuw 2008 ); (6) role of the researcher (Fink 2000 ); (7) time constraints, duration and continuation of the research process; (8) observed processes including layout drawing, prototype or product; (9) setting referring to laboratory or field research (Paluck and Cialdini 2014 ); (10) tasks including type and complexity and nature; (11) number of cases, case size and participants (Diggle et al. 2011 ); (12) object of analysis distinguishing objects, companies, projects, documents… (13) coding and analysis, analysis and (14) verification methods (Brewer and Crano 2014 ); or (15) findings, that is, statement models or conclusions resulting from the study. Reich and Subrahmanian ( 2021 ) use the PSI framework (Problem, Social and Institutional space) to analyse and categorise research design works focussing on dimensions related to the problem being addressed concerning (1) disciplinary, (2) structural complexity and (3) knowledge availability; dimensions related with who is included in designing concerning (4) the perspective required to formulate the problem, (5) the inclusion of participants in the design process and the (6) capabilities of the design team; and finally dimensions related with how designing is executed taking into account (7) the ties or connections between actors, (8) the accessibility to knowledge and (9) the institutional complexity (Reich and Subrahmanian 2020 ). The dimensions presented by Blessing and Chakrabari have the ambition to classify different aspects to be taken into account when research in engineering design works are tackled. The dimensions proposed by Reich and Subrahmian are complementary and arise when they analyse the factors influencing success in engineering design projects. When analysing papers, some of the details related to some of the listed dimensions could be missing in the descriptions (timing, success validation etc.) so that we had to devise alternative proposals.

Our analysis pivots around the division between empirical qualitative, quantitative research and mixed-methods proposed by (Creswell 2009 ). This classification was complemented with analytical research methods, as specified by (Adrion 1993 ), cited by (Glass 1995 ) (defined in Sect. 2.2). From this germinal division, data-collection methods, strategies, and contributions of the studies are reported in cross-analysis tables. We aim to identify the main goals and results pursued or obtained by researchers (dimensions 2 and 15 of Blessing and Chakrabarti 2009 ), the strategies of enquiry and methodologies they follow (dimensions 1, 3, 9, 10 of Blessing and Chakrabarti 2009 ), and which data sources and instruments are most (and least) commonly used (rest of dimensions of Blessing and Chakrabarti 2009 ) in the domain of engineering design.

The structure of the document is the following: First, we present the review method and the categories used to classify the papers. We then present the quantitative results of the number of papers in each of the categories and the cross relations of the different classes, shedding light on the relative weight of each of the qualitative and quantitative approaches and the most frequent data-collection methods used. Next, we discuss the usefulness of the obtained results for academics and professionals interested in research design and the paper ends with the conclusions. Complementary material is provided with a brief description of each of the analysed papers.

We follow Kitchenham et al. ( 2009 ) as a guideline for performing the systematic review. The nature of the research question did not suit a usual search in the databases, as we were interested in analysing the approaches to research published in the field of engineering design. For this reason, we focused on identifying papers published in relevant journals in the field. The data sources are journal papers in the field of engineering design.

A simple search in the Journal of Citation Reports using the term “Design” as a key search title criterion, generates a list of 99 journals indexed in different categories. Only 80 are indexed in 2020, the rest of them in previous years. As we aimed to high-impact journals reporting research in engineering design, we focused on the journals indexed in SCIE (Science Citation Index Expanded) related to Science and Technology, discarding the 22 journals indexed in ESCI (Emerging Sources Citation Index), the 10 indexed in AHCI (Arts and Humanities Citation Index) and the 5 indexed in SSCI (Social Sciences Citation Index). Among the 43 remaining journals indexed in SCIE, 13 of them correspond to categories related to Chemistry and Biology (for example Anti-Cancer Drug Design or Molecular System Design & Engineering ) 11 of them to Computer Science or Electrics (for example Design Codes and Cryptography or Computer Aid Design ); 3 with Mathematics (for example Journal of Combinatorial Design ) and 2 with Building ( Architectural Engineering and Design Management or Structural Design of Tall and Special Building ). Closer to engineering design are the 14 remaining journals: 4 indexed in Mechanics Journal of Mechanical Design, Mechanics Based Design of Structures and Machines, Journal of Advanced Mechanical Design Systems for Manufacturing and Journal of Strain Analysis for Engineering Design ), 4 related to Materials ( Materials & Design, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, International Journal of Mechanics and Materials in Design and Road Materials and Pavement Design ); and 2 related with vehicle design ( Journal of Ship Production and Design , and International Journal of Vehicle Design ). In spite of being closer to the topic of research in engineering design, we discarded these journals for being too specific. The remaining 4 journals were: (i) Design Studies (DS), (ii) the International Journal of Design (IJD), (iii) the Journal of Engineering Design (JED) and (iv) Research on Engineering Design (RED). Table 1 shows that these journals share the category denominated “Engineering Multidisciplinary”. In this category, there are 6 journals that have the term “Design” in the title, the four selected plus International Journal of Technology and Design Education (also indexed in SSCI), Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design Analysis and Manufacturing (also indexed in Computer Science) that were discarded for being specialized in education and in artificial intelligence with applications in engineering design, respectively, and therefore, out of the focus of our research.

Each of the selected journals declare in their presentation their aims and audience: RED focuses on design theory and methodology, DS focuses on design processes, JED focuses on different aspects of the design of engineered products and systems, and IJD publishes research papers in all fields of design. The audience of DS, JEC and IJD is broader than the one of RED, which focuses on mechanical, civil, architectural, and manufacturing engineering. Overall, the four journals constitute a rich and representative sample that includes works of diverse nature, applying a variety of research methods and approaches to different problems in the context of research in engineering design.

Sample selection in systematic literature reviews must be structured, comprehensive, and transparent (Hiebl 2021 ). To comply with these three requirements, we established a recent and limited temporal window and applied random selection to select the sample. We collected 17 papers from each journal, as 17 is the number of papers available in one of the journals under analysis (IJD) and we chose to use the same number of papers per journal to avoid bias (i.e., giving more importance to one journal than another) in the study. For the journals with more than 17 papers in the period of analysis, random selection was applied. We focused on papers published between November 2018 and November 2019, which was the most recent available time window when this work was started.

This methodology led to a final total of 68 papers. We followed a collaborative team-coding approach (Saldaña 2021 ). Papers were selected and assigned randomly to a pair of reviewers. Each reviewer coded two papers every two weeks. Disagreements and new code proposals were resolved in periodic meetings involving the four researchers/authors. The first author of this paper played the role of “codebook editor” (MacQueen and Guest 2008 ), updating the code list after the meetings and he used the data from the analysis to build the final tables and present the resulting themes derived from the study.

With the aim of answering the general question of this review, RQ:, “What is the current landscape of research methods in engineering design?”, we focused on the following more specific sub-questions:

What are the research goals pursued by the analysed works?

What are the main experimental approaches found in the reviewed papers?

What data collection methods are employed in the reviewed works?

Which instruments are normally used to collect these data?

To answer these questions, we followed an anticipated data condensation approach (Miles et al. 2020 ). We defined four overarching topics corresponding to the research sub-questions: aims and contributions of the research; research approach; data collection techniques; and instruments for the collection of data. For each topic, we defined a set of categories, based on our revision of engineering design methods (see Sect. 2). During the iterative coding work, emerging categories were included when required. The new categories were used to re-codify all the works. This combination of deductive and inductive coding enabled us to derive new meanings from the data.

In the rest of this section, we present the categories that were identified in the analysis under each topic. Appendix shows complementary information with representative examples of the categories.

2.1 Aims and contributions

Concerning the aims/contributions of the research (RQ1), we started from an empty list of research targets which was enriched as the number of reviewed papers increased. Finally, the following research goals were identified through the coding process:

To study or propose a methodology, that focuses on papers whose main objective is to study an existing design methodology by analysing its validity in works that propose a new design methodology or that develop a part of it more deeply.

To delve into a given aspect of design, which includes papers that focus on exploring an aspect of a design (team communication, sketching, generation of ideas, materials...) or that explore one area of design that is recognised as challenging (social design, inclusive design, ecological design...).

To design, develop, or test a specific product , which includes those papers that set out the process of creation or development of a specific product or a group of them. Some of these works describe the overall process of creating a product, and others focus on a specific phase of its development (research, ideation, testing, and validation).

To make recommendations or propose guidelines, which include articles whose main aim is to systematize the results of their research to provide advice, either at a methodological level or in the design of new products.

Proposing a theory includes those articles that use logical reasoning or mental operations, such as imagination, intuition, abstraction, and deduction, with the aim of enunciating concepts or creating models, explanations, or theories about the phenomena under study.

Proposing a framework of analysis or a taxonomy that enables concepts or objects to be classified into categories.

More than one code could be assigned to each of the papers. This could be the case of a paper that aims to develop a specific product and ends by proposing guidelines.

2.2 Research approach

Concerning experimental approaches found in the reviewed papers (RQ2), as explained in the introduction, we propose the use of the distinction between quantitative, qualitative, mixed, and analytical research methods, defined as:

Quantitative empirical studies are those that aim at testing theories by examining relationships between variables, based on the collection of numerical data which is analysed using statistical procedures.

Qualitative empirical studies are those that aim at exploring and understanding in depth the meaning that individuals or groups give to a problem. They usually involve the collection of non-numerical data obtained in the participants’ settings and follow inductive analysis approaches in which the researchers interpret the meanings of the collected data.

Mixed-methods studies are those that combine both quantitative and qualitative approaches at diverse levels (data sources, analytical methods, etc.), so that the overall study is stronger than using each of the two approaches (i.e., quantitative, or qualitative) separately.

Analytical studies are those that focus on the formalization of a model and its demonstration. They start out by proposing a formal model with a mathematical formulation, derive results using deductive approaches, and, if possible, compare these results with empirical observations.

With respect to quantitative empirical studies, we subcategorize them into experiments, quasi-experiments and non-experiments, depending on the way the subjects of interest are assigned to an experimental group or to a control group:

Experiments: the assignment of subjects to the experimental or to the control group is random.

Quasi-experiments: there is not a random assignment of a subject to the groups.

Non-experiments: there is not control on the grouping of subjects.

When a known qualitative strategy of inquiry is used, it is also tagged. According to the definition proposed by Creswell ( 2009 ), strategies of inquiry are types of methods, designs or models that provide specific direction for procedures in a research design.

Ethnographic research documents the beliefs and practices of a particular cultural group or phenomenon in its natural environment from the perspective of insiders (Lapan et al. 2012 ). The researcher stays on site for a considerable amount of time to analyse practices and behaviours of groups, by observing, interviewing and (sometimes) participating in the process under analysis. Very popular in social sciences, it is also used in architecture (Cranz 2016 ).

In phenomenological research , the researcher identifies the essence of human experiences about a phenomenon as described by participants, while the researcher sets aside his or her own perspective (Wilson 2015 ).

Grounded theory is a strategy of inquiry in which the researcher derives a general theory grounded in the views of participants, involving the use of multiple stages of data collection (Jørgensen 2001 ).

Hermeneutics inquiry focuses on disclosing how participants’ interpretations of a phenomenon determine the way they live in the world (Stigliano 1989 ). This technique is popular in architecture (Pérez-Gómez 1999 ) .

Case study research is an empirical strategy of inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context (Yin 2009 ). It uses descriptions of programs, events, or other phenomena to construct a complete portrayal of a case for interpretation and possible action (Lapan et al. 2012 ).

Eikeland ( 2006 ) describes different approaches to action research that involve applied research, moving experimentation from laboratories to field, inviting the subjects of research to join the community of researchers and involving practitioners in research with the insistence of thinking through personal practices. Action research is a very popular approach in social sciences (Stringer 2008 ; Clark et al. 2020 ) and it is also proposed for architecture (Herr 2015 ) and for the practice of product design (Swann 2002 ). This method is related to the terms research-through-design, practice-based-design research or research-by-design (Redström 2017 ; Vaughan 2017 ), that has been discussed to be a kind of action research in works like (Kennedy-Clark 2013 ; Motta-Filho 2021 ).

Case study is generally used for exploratory research or for pre-testing some research hypotheses (Blessing and Chakrabarti 2009 ). Action research requires a high degree of flexibility and is usually qualitative, data-driven, participatory, and makes use of multiple data sources. Case study and action research also appear in the following criteria of classification, following the proposal of Blessing and Chakrabarti ( 2009 ) referring to data-collection techniques.

2.3 Data-collection techniques

In this subsection, we present the list of data-collection techniques we have tagged, to analyse what is proposed in RQ3. Following the list of data-collection methods presented in section A.4 of Blessing and Chakrabarti ( 2009 ), excluding experiments, case studies and action research we prefer to include in the list of inquiry research strategies presented in the previous subsection.

Observation is a technique in which the researcher records, in real time, what is happening, either by hand, recording it or using measuring equipment. As Blessing and Chakrabarti ( 2009 ) explain: ‘The quality of observational data is highly dependent on the skill, training and competency of the observer’ (Blessing and Chakrabarti 2009 ). Observations are the main source of data in ethnographic studies (see Sect. 2.1), but this strategy is also commonly used in social sciences (Creswell 2009 ) and in visual design (Goodwin 2000 ), architecture (Cuff 1992 ) and product design practice (Wasson 2000 ).

Simultaneous verbalization refers to the situation in which the participants speak aloud while using a system, with the aim of providing information about the cognitive behaviour of the participants, which may not be obtained through normal observation (Ohnemus and Biers 1993 ). Often used to analyse problem-solving behaviour, its most important feature is the real-time aspect. Simultaneous verbalization sessions usually last a few hours and never more than a day, due to the effort required by both the participants and the researchers in their corresponding analysis. Although audio recordings are sometimes used to record simultaneous verbalization, they are understood as inappropriate for a process such as design, which usually involves drawings and gestures, so video recordings are considered more appropriate.

Collecting technical documents consists of obtaining technical documents related to a particular project, topic or product, from various sources (Rapley and Rees 2018 ). Analysis of these documents is often used early in a research project to understand the organisation, the background of the project and the experience of the designers. It is commonly employed in most observational studies. However, if it is used as a single source of information, it can result in such limitations as the usual lack of data on the context in which the documents were created and the reason for their content. It is, therefore, convenient to complement them with other methods such as interviews.

Collecting physical objects involves mock-ups, prototypes and other physical models that may be relevant for developing a product or testing it. The model or prototype could refer to a part of the product or the whole product. For traditional engineering research, which focuses, for example, on the analysis of product behaviour, the products are the main source of data (Blessing and Chakrabarti 2009 ). In our review, we consider those works that start collecting different objects to carry out a study on their usefulness, or on the behaviour of users, for example. The object is a general term that can refer both to drawings and physical objects. Among the former, we find all those sketches, drawings and diagrams that have emerged throughout the conception of a product or its development, or throughout a research process, which could yield important information to organise ideas and draw conclusions.

Questionnaires are used to collect people´s thoughts or opinions about a certain product, process or method (Radhakrishna 2007 ). A priori, they seem easier to use than real-time methods, such as observation or simultaneous verbalization, and they are useful to obtain data from a greater number of cases. However, some of its disadvantages, such as the time required by the participants and the potential bias of the results, must also be taken into account.

Interviews have the same purpose as the questionnaires but are carried out face-to-face (King et al. 2019 ). Sometimes they are not carried out individually but using a group dynamic known as focus group: a group interview that mixes aspects of interviews and observations, as it provides information from the study of the interactions between participants. Focus groups can provide richer information than interviews, but they can have a negative effect on the contribution of specific participants.

2.4 Instruments for the collection of data

Data collection methods are supported by instrumentation. This section describes the categories we found to respond to RQ4, exposing the instruments that are normally used to collect these data. Independently of the strategy of inquiry applied, there are several instruments that are used to keep records of the observations. These recordings are important to keep evidence and to enable the reproducibility of the analysis. We tagged the papers depending on the use of classical audio, video and image recordings and the more recent technique of eye tracking (Bergstrom and Schall 2014 ).

In experiments and case studies, we are also interested in physical measurements that are used to objectify observations.

When questionnaires and/or interviews are the data-collection techniques, we tagged who is the attendee, distinguishing between stakeholders , users of products or participants (observed people) in the research and experts or designers. We also found it relevant to tag when the study uses workshops as a means to obtain information.

The last topic of interest that has been tagged is the fact that the research work uses simulation algorithms or tools as a source of information. We use this tag when the simulation tools are a fundamental part of the research, as it provides the information analysed in the paper (Behera et al. 2019 ), or because the tool or the algorithm itself is the main contribution (Mathias et al. 2019 ).

3.1 Aims and contributions of the reviewed papers

Table 2 shows the codes assigned to each of the papers analysed. This section summarises the results related to RQ1 (research goals). As shown in Table 2 , most of the works focus on methodologies or on the analysis of a specific aspect of the design processes. The presentation of a product and the building up of knowledge with taxonomies, guidelines, theories, or reviews, are exceptions.

Five papers propose a theory: (Comi et al. 2019 ) present the concept of shared professional vision; (Benavides and Lara-Rapp 2019 ) present the principle of weaker dependencies in axiomatic design; (Martinec et al. 2019 ) introduce the state-transition model (synthesis, analysis, evaluation) in conceptual design and Lloyd ( 2019 ) defends the theory of the social turn in design, Aktas and Mäkelä ( 2019 ) focus on the relation between craft, materials, makers.

Six works focus on the evaluation of a specific product: a software product in Takahashi et al. ( 2018 ) and Belkadi et al. ( 2019 ); or physical objects in the case of Roesler et al. ( 2019 ), Hyysalo et al. ( 2019b ) and McKinnon and Sade ( 2019 ).

Concerning the works related to methodologies, we find papers that propose a method based on analytical methods or algorithmic solutions such as those related to axiomatic design (Chen et al. 2019a ) and those related to such methods as research-through-design, where the importance of the method followed is prominent in the study (Tsai and Van Den Hoven 2018 ; Hyysalo et al. 2019b ; McKinnon and Sade 2019 ; Hanrahan et al. 2019 ); or methodologies for product development such as Daalhuizen et al. ( 2019 ), with emphasis on different aspects such as work in groups (Gyory et al. 2019 ), sustainability (Santolaya et al. 2019 ) or democratised design (Hyysalo et al. 2019a ).

A good number of papers present frameworks of analysis or classifications with different purposes. Bresciani ( 2019 ) for classifying visualization dimensions, McDonald and Michela ( 2019 ) to classify moral goods, Roy and Warren ( 2019 ) for card sets, Park-Lee and Person ( 2018 ) identify three practices on briefing, Vegt et al. ( 2019 ) deduce 3 types of invasiveness evoked by the rules in gamified brainstorming, Valverde et al. ( 2019 ) classify the type of feedback in automotive push buttons, Cooper ( 2019 ) presents the five waves in design research, Luck ( 2019 ) describes the framework to distinguish between design, design research, architectural design research and practice, Hobye and Ranten ( 2019 ) present five behavioural strategies for interactive products and Van Kuijk et al. ( 2019 ) presents a framework to analyse usability concepts of electronic products and Petreca et al. ( 2019 ) for analysing the relation between sensors and textile. We also include in this category the papers related to ontologies, that are used to represent knowledge.

Proposing recommendations is a common result in the analysed research papers, including a variety of themes such as recommendations on the use of guidelines by new designers (Reimlinger et al. 2019 ); the use of specific materials (Genç et al. 2018 ; Pedgley et al. 2018 ; Aktas and Mäkelä 2019 ; Petreca et al. 2019 ); how to orient future studies on the use of mobile technology by elderly people (Li and Luximon 2018 ), or about design and poverty (Jagtap 2019 ) or ethnographic studies in developing countries (Wood and Mattson 2019 ); appliance design (Selvefors et al. 2018 ); use of games in brainstorming (Vegt et al. 2019 ); or specifying requirements (Morkos et al. 2019 ). Cooper ( 2019 ) proposes interprets the history of design research through five waves.

The most frequent type of works delve into a particular aspect of product design such as sketching (Sung et al. 2019 ; Self 2019 ), prototyping (Menold et al. 2019 ; Mathias et al. 2019 ), material (Pedgley et al. 2018 ; Aktas and Mäkelä 2019 ; Barati et al. 2019 ; Petreca et al. 2019 ), interaction (Hobye and Ranten 2019 ; Valverde et al. 2019 ), briefing (Park-Lee and Person 2018 ), working in groups (Graeff et al. 2019 ), iterations and testing (Tahera et al. 2019 ; Piccolo et al. 2019 ); behavioural complexity (Hobye and Ranten 2019 ), manufacturing (Yang et al. 2019 ), or usability (Van Kuijk et al. 2019 ).

3.2 Strategies of inquiry and methodologies

This section summarises the results related to RQ2 (main experimental approaches founded): qualitative approaches are a majority, but the number of quantitative or mixed-methods studies is also relevant. Other approaches, such as the use of analytical methods, are less frequent. Table 3 shows that, when the goal of the paper is related to proposing or studying a methodology (first column in Table 3 ), the percentage of pure quantitative papers is lower than in the rest of the cases. Regarding whether there is a tendency towards any methodology depending on the journal; Table 2 shows that the Journal on Engineering Design seems to focus more than the other journals on non-qualitative strategies of inquiry.

When quantitative methods are used, experiments are more frequent than quasi-experiments and non-experiments (14 out of the 17 quantitative studies present an experiment). We found 26 experimental studies, with 5 quasi-experiments (Saliminamin et al. 2019 ; Vegt et al. 2019 ; Sung et al. 2019 ; Self 2019 ; Santolaya et al. 2019 ) and 4 non-experiments (Selvefors et al. 2018 ; Morkos et al. 2019 ; Roesler et al. 2019 ; Piccolo et al. 2019 ).

The use of case studies is pervasive in qualitative research (more than half the studies that classified as qualitative base the research on a case study). Furthermore, many quantitative studies support results from case studies; for example, some analytical studies in which case studies are used as proof of concept of the proposed models (Chen et al. 2019b ; Zhang and Thomson 2019 ; Li et al. 2019a ).

Nevertheless, other qualitative methods, such as ethnography, hermeneutics, action research and phenomenological studies, are also used. The use of specific methods related to design is scarce (the discussion about this concern is dealt with in detail below). Ethnography is used in three cases (Roesler et al. 2019 ; Van der Linden et al. 2019a ; Comi et al. 2019 )—also the annotation as observation in the tables—and one more paper uses ethnography as the study focus (Wood and Mattson 2019 ). Hermeneutics is used by (McDonald and Michela 2019 ; Cooper 2019 ; Lloyd 2019 ; Luck 2019 ).

Action research is used by Pakkanen et al. ( 2019 ) to investigate, in combination with case studies, modular systems in industrial environments. The work of Bresciani ( 2019 ) could be considered an action research study with the goal of building a grounded theory evaluation technique for visual thinking. McKinnon and Sade ( 2019 ) align their work in the field of research through design using a set of gadgets to obtain information about environmental home good practices. Research through design is also used by Genç et al. ( 2018 ) to explore new materials and Tsai and Van Den Hoven ( 2018 ) to explore user experience. Hyysalo et al. ( 2019b ) and present the evaluation of a panel following the principles of research through design. Close to this method is that presented by Barati et al.( 2019 ), who complement their study with workshops where a group of students explores their proposals.

3.3 Data-collection methods

Results regarding RQ3 (data collection methods) are summarised in this section. Table 3 shows which main methods and techniques for collecting data are used in the different studies. The analysis of the sources of information is completed with a revision of the instruments used to collect data and with a discussion about the role of human input presented in the following sections. None of the data-collection methods identified seem to be dominant in the papers studied.

Technical documents of diverse nature are the main source of information used (Table 2 reports 23 out of the 68 papers analysed using technical documents). Interviewing is also frequent (22 times reported in Table 2 ). Expert and user opinions are both used as sources of information, but neither is a majority (22 and 20 papers, respectively, reported in Table 2 . Observation is mostly used in qualitative studies, where almost half use this technique. Concerning quantitative studies, apart from measurements, expert opinions appear as a frequent resource. This is because it is common to collect the opinions of experts in questionnaires or in evaluation templates that convert opinions into numeric values.

Verbalization is used in Martinec et al. ( 2019 ) and Gyory et al. ( 2019 ) for team work analysis and in (Khalaj and Pedgley 2019 ), where designers and users had to verbalize impressions.

Objects are collected as a data source in a relevant number of studies. Some are the results of students’ work as in Gralla et al. ( 2019 ); brainstorming outputs (Vegt et al. 2019 ); prototypes (Feijs and Toeters 2018 ; Barati et al. 2019 ), or commercial products (Roy and Warren 2019 ). Sketches are the type of object analysed in (Genç et al. 2018 ; Martinec et al. 2019 ; Gyory et al. 2019 ; Goucher-Lambert and Cagan 2019 ; Comi et al. 2019 ); while for (Li and Luximon 2018 ; Sung et al. 2019 ) sketches are the main concern of the research.

Questionnaires are less frequently used, and when this happens, they are designed ad-hoc for each study. Given the wide variety of topics and aims of the reviewed works, no standardised questionnaires have been found. Questionnaires, therefore, take different formats: Amazon Mechanical Turk is used once (Goucher-Lambert and Cagan 2019 ); a Likert scale tool evaluation (Graeff et al. 2019 ); binary and open questions (Pakkanen et al. 2019 ); ranking of preferences (Franceschini and Maisano 2019 ); or ad-hoc software tools (Li et al. 2019a ).

Interviews are frequently used as a source of information in qualitative and mixed strategies of inquiry. Interviews are associated with phenomenological studies (Li and Luximon 2018 ; Park-Lee and Person 2018 ; Selvefors et al. 2018 ) and also in ethnographic studies (Roesler et al. 2019 ; Van der Linden et al. 2019a ; Wood and Mattson 2019 ; Comi et al. 2019 ). The interviewed population can be a group of users of a given technology (Li and Luximon 2018 ) or a group of experts (Bresciani 2019 ).

Concerning the sample size used in the 24 papers whose research method has been classified as experimental, and taking into account that the sample may refer to studied objects or to participants/users, which, in turn, may be individuals or teams, the number of participants/users varies between 4, in Martinec et al. ( 2019 ), and 169, in Ozer and Cebeci ( 2019 ). The number of studied objects also varies from 6, in Mathias et al. ( 2019 ) to 256, in Li et al. ( 2019b ). In Santolaya et al. ( 2019 ) a methodology is experimentally tested in 2 case studies.

3.4 Instruments

Results regarding RQ4 (instruments used to collect data) are summarised in this section. Measurements refer both to metrics obtained with a physical device and to qualitative ratings obtained from human-based scores. In the first group, we can mention the metrics of energetic consumption (Selvefors et al. 2018 ; Santolaya et al. 2019 ), mass material (Santolaya et al. 2019 ), volumes of objects (Mathias et al. 2019 ), displacement of buttons (Valverde et al. 2019 ), online shopping user interaction data (Ozer and Cebeci 2019 ), or the timing of tasks in (Mathias et al. 2019 ). In the second group, we can cite (Saliminamin et al. 2019 ; Gyory et al. 2019 ), which score the quality of design proposals, and (Franceschini and Maisano 2019 ), who use design preferences as the input for an analytical model.

Simulations and/or software developments of algorithms take on an important role in several papers. Belkadi et al. ( 2019 ) present a software tool; Chen et al. ( 2019a ), Feijs and Toeters ( 2018 ), Mathias et al. ( 2019 ) and Takahashi et al. ( 2018 ) present or test software tools for different goals, such as analysing Lego buildings, and generating fashion patterns for projecting requirements into design parameters. Li et al. ( 2019a ) focus on modelling knowledge; Piccolo et al. ( 2019 ) use analysis and visualization tools to present results; while Ozer and Cebeci ( 2019 ) and Saravanan and Jerald ( 2019 ) use machine learning techniques such as neural networks and clustering. De Lessio et al. ( 2019 ) present a software tool to support planning and Yang et al. ( 2019 ) to support manufacturing. Boussuge et al. ( 2019 ) propose using ontologies to capture high-level modelling and idealisation decisions, characterising the simulations of CAE models from CAD assemblies. Other papers related to ontologies use software to model them (Cheong and Butscher 2019 ; Hagedorn et al. 2019 ; Wang et al. 2019 ).

Workshops are frequently used for evaluating results and sharing experiences by a group of experts with discussions (Van der Linden et al. 2019a , b ; McKinnon and Sade 2019 ; Self 2019 ; Wlazlak et al. 2019 ). In (Genç et al. 2018 ; Martinec et al. 2019 ), the workshops become designing activities in the research-through-design methodology. In Takahashi et al. ( 2018 ), workshops are used to observe users while they interact with a system and, in Pakkanen et al. ( 2019 ), to collect information from experts. In Garcia et al. ( 2019 ), workshops are meetings with stakeholders.

The opinions of stakeholders can be the core of the research study (Self 2019 ) or they can be used as part of usability tests (Takahashi et al. 2018 ). Most often, questionnaires and interviews are performed with users of a product (Selvefors et al. 2018 ; Roesler et al. 2019 ; Hanrahan et al. 2019 ; Ozer and Cebeci 2019 ); by active participants of the process under analysis, such as professionals in companies (Reimlinger et al. 2019 ; Wlazlak et al. 2019 ); or by students that are required to do a project (Vegt et al. 2019 ; Li et al. 2019a ; Abi Akle et al. 2019 ; Graeff et al. 2019 ). The experts that participate in questionnaires or interviews are designers, architects, engineers (Li and Luximon 2018 ; Park-Lee and Person 2018 ; Pakkanen et al. 2019 ), or academic staff evaluating results (Morkos et al. 2019 ; Sung et al. 2019 ; McKinnon and Sade 2019 ). In interviews occurring in ethnographic studies, the subjects providing information could be considered the topic of analysis (Wood and Mattson 2019 ), but at the same time, they could be experts (Comi et al. 2019 ).

4 Discussion

4.1 variety of aims and approaches.

The principal finding of our research is that there is a very high diversity in the works we have analysed in the journals related to engineering design. This variety affects the aims and scopes of the research works, the methods, and the data sources. Table 4 shows that variety affects the papers in the four journals analysed with only minor differences among them. Thus, DS (Design Studies) and RED (Research in Engineering Design) seem to focus more on methodological aspects, while IJD (International Journal of Design) and JED (Journal of Engineering Design) focus more on delving into particular aspects of the design process or on products, but at most 7 papers out of the 17 falls into one of the categories. According to the results, DS and IJD journals attract more papers with a qualitative approach (only 2 papers in each journal are purely quantitative), while most of the papers from JED and RED follow a quantitative or analytical approach (only 3 and 7 papers, respectively, are purely qualitative). However, we have found papers with both approaches in all the journals. RED uses less self-reported data (interviews, questionnaires or workshops), while DS uses this source of data the most, but in both journals there are exceptions, such as the works of Mathias et al. ( 2019 ) in DS or Garcia et al. ( 2019 ) in RED.

Despite this broad spectrum of papers, we found a clear interest in methodologies and the in-depth analysis of a given aspect of the whole process of designing generally applied to a particular case study. The interest in both topics is justified by the nature of the design and the youth of the discipline. As a process of searching for optimum solutions, design is clearly related to methodological concerns. As a young discipline, the space for contributing to the different tasks of the whole design process is huge. The analysis of the process of engineering design has evolved from being considered from a purely technical perspective to being studied as a socio-technical process. From a technical point of view, (Beitz et al. 1996 ) distinguished between conceptual design and embodied design for identifying a list of tasks that contribute to facing problems of engineering design in an effective and systematic way. From a socio-technical perspective, different authors have pointed out that the design process is influenced by aspects related to teamwork capabilities (Dorst 2004 ), the inclusion of participants (Van der Bijl-Brouwer and Dorst 2017 ) or by the institutional complexity (Reich and Subrahmanian 2020 ). Our study shows that there is space for research works that focus on both perspectives of analysis, being found works that are closely related to tasks that affect conceptual design (Martinec et al. 2019 ; Benavides and Lara-Rapp 2019 ; Self 2019 ), embodied design (Petreca et al. 2019 ) and also to social aspects of the design process (Piccolo et al. 2019 ).

It has been observed that there are a relatively low number of papers proposing recommendations, guidelines, frameworks, and taxonomies. We understand how difficult it is generalizing and classifying a discipline with multiple tasks, agents, approaches and sub-domains. Nevertheless, generating these types of representations of knowledge could be a substrate for the growth of the discipline. Design is a context-specific endeavour, but trying to generalize results so that other authors could reuse the generated knowledge in other domains would be positive for the growth of the discipline. The selected papers include product development and engineering design, which are two different areas, albeit overlapping. Recommendations and guidelines are always useful for the practice of engineering design, but more importantly, classifying concepts and types of activities with frameworks and taxonomies is an essential process in the building of knowledge in any research area. The variety of aims and approaches is probably the reason for this deficit, but research in engineering design would benefit from works analysing the many methodologies proposed from a meta level that permits obtaining general concepts that are domain-independent and universally applicable.

Results presented in Table 2 and summarised in Table 3 could be used to derive patterns or preferred styles in research design. Papers using analytical approaches mainly use case studies to validate the proposed models and they use simulations to compare results with expectations. Here, the case studies are used as proof of concept of the proposed models. They do not consider human input as a main feature of analysis. The ones related to methodological concerns are the papers focusing on axiomatic design and the ones relating to specific aspects or to frameworks are the ones related to ontologies. Most papers with quantitative approaches use experimental setups in which they compare different configurations of a given problem. The means to collect numerical data highly depend on the type of work, with no outstanding method or instrument. This approach is mainly used when the goal is to study a given aspect of design, which is coherent with the fact that experiments are meant to measure variables that can be isolated, and therefore these studies need to focus on specific features of the design process. Like analytical papers, qualitative approaches are mainly based on case studies. The main difference is related to the nature of these case studies. In qualitative approaches, the case studies aim at gaining insight into the complexity of the studied design processes from the point of view of the participants. In consequence, the preferred data collection methods are observations and interviews and/or workshops, to collect data from users and experts. They use rich data sources (audio, photography, video or software tools) to make observations rigorously. Qualitative approaches are the most used methods, independently of the aim of the paper, but they are dominant for proposing frameworks of analysis or deriving guidelines and recommendations, probably because the active interpretation of experts is a must for these concerns. Papers using mixed methods triangulate the information obtained in quantitative experiments with information obtained with qualitative methods. Therefore, their pattern is closer to one of the papers using quantitative methods than to the ones using qualitative methods.

The application of one approach or another should respond to what Subrahmanian et al. ( 2020 ) call the different models of designing. When the artifact or the process is clear, analytical, and quantitative methods, closer to approaches followed in natural science can be applied. When people, culture, society, and politics must be taken into consideration, the use of analytical and quantitative methods is not appropriate. When individual designers play a role, and, especially, when social aspects and context must be taken into consideration, design processes become more complex and dynamic, involving aspects that are better studied by qualitative approaches that are able to capture the complexity of the object of study and the participants' perspectives.

4.2 Implications for the research in the engineering design community

As mentioned in the introduction, one of the objectives of this paper was to provide suggestions about the course contents that doctoral studies in the domain of engineering design must carry out. The first implication of our analysis relates to the type of research methodologies that students must be introduced to. According to the analysed papers, it seems essential that future researchers receive training in both qualitative and quantitative methods. The analysis shows that qualitative research is very common and that rich sources of data, such as observations or users and experts opinions collected through interviews are frequent. Furthermore, pure qualitative research approaches, like ethnography and phenomenology are commonly found. Nevertheless, experimental approaches should also have a relevant role in the student curricula because it is frequently used as well. We understand that this qualitative-quantitative duality responds to the nature of engineering design, a complex field that requires both technical background and the consideration of behavioural and social aspects related to design.

A second implication has to do with the instruments and data collection methods that researchers on engineering design must get familiar with. Research studies in this domain could require accessing real design scenarios that are authentic field studies rather than controlled lab studies. This is a relevant divergence with respect to other research domains that permit isolating variables and participants. There are implications for the instruments used for collecting data, with the need of considering techniques that permit collecting information in real settings and during longer periods of time. but also, that human fact is a relevant variable that affects both design teams managements, communication with users and social aspects. This fact justifies the use of technical reports, questionnaires, and observation as the main sources of information in these studies.

It must be noted that publishing in a journal should not be an end in itself, and the real value of a paper does not rely on the journal in which it is published but on its contribution to the growth of the discipline (Bladek 2014 ). However, there is a universal tendency to identify research quality and impact with these publications, and students that pursue a research career usually need to accomplish certain goals related to publishing. For this reason, we think that doctoral students in engineering design can find this work useful, as it provides an overview and pointers to different types of research work published in four top-quality journals in the field, and this may give them tips on the kind of knowledge they need to acquire to have their work published in these journals or similar ones.

4.3 Relation to other surveys

Probably due to the youth of engineering design as a research discipline, the number of papers devoted to literature reviews in these fields is still sparse. From the few reviews found, most refer to particular aspects of engineering design: such as inspiration and fixation (Crilly 2019 ); sustainability (Coskun et al. 2015 ); user value (Boztepe 2007 ); Alzheimer and play experience (Anderiesen et al. 2015 ); performance in industrial design(Candi and Gemser 2010 ); relation between creativity, functionality, and aesthetics (Han et al. 2021 ); fuzzy front-ends for product development (Park et al. 2021 ); surrogate models and computational complexity (Alizadeh et al. 2020 ); smart design (Pessôa and Becker 2020 ); design and poverty (Jagtap 2019 ); mass customization (Ferguson et al. 2014 ); product stigma (Schröppel et al. 2021 ); uncertainty (Han et al. 2020 ); decision-making methods (Renzi et al. 2017 ); modular product design (Bonvoisin et al. 2016 ); or product-service systems (Vasantha et al. 2012 ).

More interesting, for their similarity with respect to the present study, are the works presented by Tempczyk ( 1986 ) and Cantamessa ( 2003 ), both presenting reviews or surveys about research and studies on engineering design. These two works and the one presented in this paper differ in their sources of information. Tempczyk ( 1986 ) made a survey by sending questionnaires to academic staff concerning research subjects and methods; Cantamessa ( 2003 ) made a review of the proceedings of two editions of the conference on engineering design. There is a temporal distance of 17 years between the work of Tempczyk ( 1986 ) and the one of Cantamessa ( 2003 ) and 18 years between the work of Cantamessa ( 2003 ) and the present study, but we must highlight the fact that the three studies report methodologies as one of the main topics of research. Computer-aided products are reported by Tempczyk ( 1986 ) as a relevant topic, and Cantamessa ( 2003 ) also refers to software tools as a recurrent topic, while we also identified a category named simulation which included software tools and algorithms. The three works also report a high variety of approaches and themes. The main difference between these studies and the present one is that Tempczyk ( 1986 ) reports on training as an important concern for researchers and Cantamessa ( 2003 ) observes different streams of research, loosely coupled with an excess of referencing to previous works. As regards references to training concerns, we did not find any paper related to training, probably because, nowadays, there are journals specifically devoted to learning in the domain of engineering and design. As regards the criticism of Cantamessa ( 2003 ) concerning the notable amount of self-references in the analysed papers, we did not observe such a circumstance in the journal papers we have reviewed. On the contrary, our review has found that the papers reviewed contain complete state-of-the-art sections in which other research groups are referenced and other studies are discussed. This finding partially contradicts what Cantamessa ( 2003 ) found in his review. We think that the nature of the sources of data in his review, based on proceedings which are shorter could have influenced these divergent results. Our study may point to a more mature stage of research that builds on the knowledge already offered in the community. This finding may be based on the fact we are working on journal papers that offer more mature results.

4.4 Limitations

The systematic literature review presented in this paper covers a recent period of time spanning one year of publications. The sample is representative of recent research in engineering design, but it does not provide information about tendencies in the field. For example, we have observed a relevant number of quantitative studies in comparison to qualitative ones, but we cannot say if this is a tendency. Future work would be required to compare our results with those of a longitudinal study covering a larger period of years. We expect that our work can be considered as the first step in this longer-term study that could provide useful information about the evolution of research into the young discipline of engineering design.

By selecting Blessing and Chakrabarti ( 2009 ) as a framework to categorize research papers, we did not pay attention to the important concern of the success of the research which could be a critical point for connecting the study aim, with the approach, research method, etc. Reich and Subrahmanian ( 2021 ) show that it is possible to use the PSI framework (Problem, Social and Institutional space) to describe what researchers and designers did in case studies to analyse the matching of methods, aims and approaches with the success of the projects. In spite of our work being merely descriptive of the aims, methods and techniques used by authors, we offer a corpus of categorised research papers for analysing in future works on whether the research design is appropriate for its goals.

The analysis of the sample of journal papers selected has permitted us to build a consistent set of categories for classifying research works in engineering design. We consider this sample comprehensive, based on a saturation analysis carried out on the sample, that showed that all the categories used in the analysis could be identified with 69% of the papers that were actually used in the analysis. Nevertheless, while selecting 68 papers from only four journals, we could have discarded other works that could include other alternative approaches also valid for research in engineering design. Moreover, the choice of a single year-window is another limitation of this study, as it does not enable us to provide a full vision of the field and its evolution. Nevertheless, we think that the classification presented in this paper could be the basis for subsequent studies, which should consider a broader timeframe, and therefore, a larger selection of papers across several years. Other approaches for selecting the analysed papers like sampling at the same rate in all the journals could also have led to representative results.

5 Conclusions

In this paper, we have presented a systematic review of recent literature on research methods and instruments used in a one-year period of research papers in the field of engineering design. By taking this approach, we offer a "fixed image" of recent research in the area and point to some gaps and challenges in the field.

The review shows that there is no single methodological approach accepted as the standard in the field; and that there is a large variety of goals, approaches, data collection methods and instruments to collect them. In spite of this variety, we have observed a certain preference towards qualitative methods, which can be justified by the increasing consideration of engineering design as a complex process affecting humans and their contexts.

We think that this paper contributes to research in engineering design by providing initial evidence for researchers about the kind of work that are expected by high-impact scientific journals in this domain. Additionally, academics can find in this paper a list of topics (methodologies, data-collection procedures, instruments, etc.…) that must be part of the programme of courses on research in engineering design.

6 Appendix: Coding scheme: categories and examples

The tables included in this Appendix have aim to present the knowledge generated in this paper in the form of a coding scheme, that can be used as an instrument to describe the taxonomy of research aims (Table 5 ), approaches (Table 6 ), data collection techniques (Table 7 ), and instruments (Table 8 ) in engineering design.

Data Availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article [and its supplementary information files].

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Escudero-Mancebo, D., Fernández-Villalobos, N., Martín-Llorente, Ó. et al. Research methods in engineering design: a synthesis of recent studies using a systematic literature review. Res Eng Design 34 , 221–256 (2023).

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MS in Mechanical Engineering - Thesis Guidelines

Students may choose to pursue a thesis as part of their MS degree program, but only with the consent of a faculty advisor willing to supervise the thesis work. 

Preparation of a thesis representing an independent research work is a pivotal phase of this MS degree program. It provides the student with an opportunity to work on an open-ended problem, developing a particular solution that is not pre-determined and involving synthesis of knowledge and intellectual creativity. The thesis may involve an investigation that is fundamental in nature, or may be applied, incorporating theory, experimental testing and/or analytical modeling, and/or creative design. Through the thesis, candidates are expected to give evidence of competence in research and a sound understanding of the area of specialization involved. Students are also strongly encouraged to present their research at scientific conferences and publish the results of their thesis research in a peer-reviewed journal.

Students receive a grade of Y (incomplete) in these courses as long as the thesis in progress. Eventual thesis grades replace the incomplete grades upon formal completion of the thesis. In order to receive a grade of Y for ME-0296, students must submit a  thesis prospectus  that outlines the area of work, thesis goals, proposed approach and a review of relevant past work in the literature before the end of the first semester in which the student enrolls in ME-0296, typically the third semester of full-time study. An example of a recent MS thesis prospectus can be found in the Mechanical Engineering office.

The examining committee for MS candidates completing theses should be composed of three (3) members.

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The committee chair is normally a full-time, tenure-track faculty member. One committee member must be from outside the ME department. Thesis normally counts as 9 credits towards the MS degree requirements. However, a student, with the approval of his/her thesis advisor, has the option to complete a 6-credit thesis by submitting a petition form to the Department. This petition must be signed by the student and the thesis advisor and will become part of the student's academic record. With a 6-credit thesis, a student must complete an extra graduate-level course (for a total of 8 courses) to fulfill the 30-credit requirement for graduation. This option is not typically available to those intending to pursue a Ph.D. degree. 

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The MS thesis is completed upon:

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The student should consult the  Graduate Student Handbook  for specific dates and deadlines for this process in the graduation semester.

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For an A.B. degree, a research thesis is strongly encouraged but not required; a thesis is necessary to be considered for High or Highest Honors. Additionally, a thesis will be particularly useful for students interested in pursuing graduate engineering research. 

In the S.B. degree programs, every student completes a design thesis as part of the required senior capstone design course (ES 100hf). During the year-long course students design and prototype a solution to an engineering problem of their own choice.

The guide below provides an overview of the requirement for a thesis in Biomedical Engineering:

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Some recent thesis examples across all of SEAS can be found on the Harvard DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard) repository .

Biomedical Engineering (A.B.) Senior thesis examples:

  • Engineering a Functionalized Biofilm-Based Material for Modulating Escherichia Coli’s Effects in the Mammalian Gastrointestinal Tract
  • The MiR-130/301 Family Controls Cellular Survival in Pulmonary Hypertension
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  • The Clean Cut: Design, Synthesis, Assay Optimization, and Biological Evaluation of Compounds That Can Produce Double Strand Breaks in Deoxyribonucleic Acid
  • Dilating Health, Healthcare, and Well-Being: Experiences of LGBTQ+ Thai People (Joint with Women and Gender Studies)

Biomedical Engineering (S.B.) Senior thesis examples:

  • Predicting the Severity of Levodopa-Induced Dyskinesia of Parkinson’s Patients Through Template Matching
  • Development of 3D-Printed Bony Implants for Biomimetic Ear Canal Wall Reconstruction
  • Powassan Nanobody Diagnostic
  • Microfluidic-based In-droplet Transcript Barcoding Platform for Identification of T Cell Receptors and Target Epitopes
  • Adjustable stiffness splint based on principles of laminar jamming
  • Oil-Infused Silicone Tympanostomy Tube as a Novel Treatment of Recurrent Otitis Media
  • Cardiac Fibrosis-on-a-Chip: Fibrotic Cardiac Tissues on Biomimetic Nanofiber Scaffolds for Anti-fibrosis Drug Screening
  • In Vitro Model for the Placental Barrier
  • Multi-drug Device for Improved Diabetic Control
  • Correlation of Core to Skin Temperature for Temp-Sensing Wearable Device
  • Alginate Hydrogels for Topical Delivery of Ultra-High Concentrations of Antibiotics in Burn Wounds
  • Cellular Invasion into Three-Dimensional, RGD-Functionalized PTFE Mesh
  • Insulin transdermal patch
  • Handheld Device for Dermatological Diagnosis
  • Estimating Limb Propulsion

Engineering A.B. Thesis Extensions and Late Submissions

Thesis extensions will only be granted in extraordinary circumstances, such as hospitalization or grave family emergency. An extension may only be granted by the DUS (who may consult with thesis advisor, resident dean, and readers). For joint concentrators, the other concentration should also support the extension. To request an extension, please email your ADUS or DUS, ideally several business days in advance. Please note that any extension must be able to fall within our normal grading, feedback, and degree recommendation deadline, so extensions of more than a few days are usually impossible.

Late submissions of thesis work will not be accepted. A thesis is required for joint concentrators, and a late submission will prevent a student from fulfilling this requirement. Please plan ahead and submit your thesis by the required deadline.

Senior Thesis Submission Information for A.B. Programs

Senior A.B. theses are submitted to SEAS and made accessible via the Harvard University Archives and optionally via  DASH  (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard), Harvard's open-access repository for scholarly work.

In addition to submitting to the department and thesis advisors & readers, each SEAS senior thesis writer will use an online submission system to submit an electronic copy of their senior thesis to SEAS; this electronic copy will be kept at SEAS as a non-circulating backup. Please note that the thesis won't be published until close to or after the degree date. During this submission process, the student will also have the option to make the electronic copy publicly available via DASH.  Basic document information (e.g., author name, thesis title, degree date, abstract) will also be collected via the submission system; this document information will be available in  HOLLIS , the Harvard Library catalog, and DASH (though the thesis itself will be available in DASH only if the student opts to allow this). Students can also make code or data for senior thesis work available. They can do this by posting the data to the Harvard  Dataverse  or including the code as a supplementary file in the DASH repository when submitting their thesis in the SEAS online submission system.

Whether or not a student opts to make the thesis available through DASH, SEAS will provide an electronic record copy of the thesis to the Harvard University Archives. The Archives may make this record copy of the thesis accessible to researchers in the Archives reading room via a secure workstation or by providing a paper copy for use only in the reading room.  Per University policy , for a period of five years after the acceptance of a thesis, the Archives will require an author’s written permission before permitting researchers to create or request a copy of any thesis in whole or in part. Students who wish to place additional restrictions on the record copy in the Archives must contact the Archives  directly, independent of the online submission system. 

Students interested in commercializing ideas in their theses may wish to consult Dr. Fawwaz Habbal , Senior Lecturer on Applied Physics, about patent protection. See Harvard's policy for information about ownership of software written as part of academic work.

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An annotated map showing population growth in the Levant area of the Eastern Mediterranean and West Asia.

Vallerani Micro Water Harvesting

The Badia Region covers more than 80% of Jordan and receives less than 8 inches…

Amy Whitesides and Kira Clingen , Faculty Advisors

An annotated map of the San Francisco Bay area showing the drainage basic of Alameda Creek.

Public Sediment for Alameda Creek

Resilient by Design was the Bay Area’s year-long collaborative design challenge for resilience to sea…

An annotated diagram contrasting different approaches to managing fires in forests.

Ashland Forest Resiliency Project

The Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project is an ongoing collaboration since 2010 between the Lomakatsi…

An annotated selection of photographs showing dense personal vehicle traffic and pollution prior to 2001 and more open streets with busses and pedestrians as well as reduced pollution.

TransMilenio and Bikeways

Enrique Peñalosa, was a two-term mayor of Bogotá. He served from 1998 to 2001 and…

An annotated map showing the area around Mount Kilimanjaro and other illustrations showing topographical and ecological features.

Chagga Homegardens

Homegardens are subsistence gardens that provide a supplemental source of food and nutritional security in…

A map of the world viewed from the north pole with Russia's Pleistocene Park marked and geological features highlighted.

Pleistocene Park

At the end of the Pleistocene, the steppe ecosystem was dominant across the planet, with…

A diagram of a generic city street in Copenhagen showing houses, pedestrian paths, parking spaces, and a green belt with plantings in a median strip.

Copenhagen Cloudburst Plan

In 2011, Copenhagen was struck by a 1,000-year storm event, a Cloudburst, that flooded the…

An annotated map showing the urban and geological features of a historic site in Dehli, India.

Delhi Stepwell Restoration

Baolis, or stepwells, are underground reservoirs where water can be stored close to the groundwater…

An annotated map showing the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon in relation to the United Kingdom and the rest of the world.

Swansea Bay Lagoon

Swansea Bay was once home to a thriving oyster industry that employed 600 residents in…

Sujie Park stands in front of a computer screen and several architectural models, presenting to a room full of people

2023 Peter Rice Prize: Sujie Park’s “Material Alchemy”

by Sujie Park (MArch I ’23) — Recipient of the Peter Rice Prize. The history…

Andrew Witt and Martin Bechthold , Faculty Advisors

Spring 2023

Student Work

Computer program screenshot of a model

2023 Digital Design Prize: Amelia Gan’s “Place-Time: From Waste to 3D CAD, or, Framework for geographical and temporally conscious design”

by Amelia Gan (MDes ’23) — Recipient of the Digital Design Prize. The dominance of…

Andrew Witt and Allen Sayegh , Faculty Advisors

A depiction of an architectural model the features an array of small, uniform white structures with bright blue roofs arranged together on narrow alleys. Some structures are raided on plinth structures.

2023 Clifford Wong Prize in Housing Design: Randy Crandon and Maddie Farrer

Sidewalk Stuff: Adaptive Reuse Cohousing by Randy Crandon (MArch I ’25) and Maddie Farrer (MArch…

Jenny French , Instructor

Black and White photo showing Striking workers at Pullman Factory in 1894

2023 Urban Planning Thesis Prize: Michael Zajakowski Uhll’s “Our History is our Resource:” Historic Narrative as Urban Planning Strategy in Chicago’s Pullman Neighborhood

by Michael Zajakowski Uhll (MUP ’23) — Recipient of the Urban Planning Thesis Prize. How…

Rachel Meltzer , Faculty Advisor

Three models, each demonstrating how different referents operate to produce the new whole.

2023 James Templeton Kelley Prize: Jacqueline Wong’s “An Intrinsic Model for a Non-Neutral Plural National School”

by Jacqueline Wong (MArch I ’23) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize, Master…

Sergio Lopez-Pineiro, Faculty Advisor

A rendering of a residential streetscape. Two women with a child are walking away from the viewer towards a covered marketplace in the distance.

2023 Urban Design Thesis Prize: Saad Boujane’s “Dwellings, Paths, Places: Configurative Habitat in Casablanca, Morocco “

by Saad Boujane (MAUD ’23) — Recipient of the Urban Design Thesis Prize. The Modernist…

Peter Rowe , Faculty Advisor

A tower in a field of flowers at night

2023 Landscape Architecture AP Thesis Prize and 2023 Digital Design Prize: Sonia Sobrino Ralston’s “Uncommon Knowledge: Practices and Protocols for Environmental Information”

by Sonia Sobrino Ralston (MLA I AP ’23) — Recipient of the Landscape Architecture AP…

Rosalea Monacella , Faculty Advisor

A dimly lit room displays

2023 Design Studies Thesis Prize: Alaa Suliman Eltayeb Mohamed Hamid’s Ghostopia: Interrogating Colonial Legacies and A Manifesto for The Modernized Nile

by Alaa Suliman Eltayeb Mohamed Hamid (MDes ’23) — Recipient of the Design Studies Thesis…

Montserrat Bonvehi Rosich, Faculty Advisor


2023 Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize: Kevin Robishaw’s Manatees and Margaritas: Toward a Strange New Paradise

by Kevin Robishaw (MLA I ’23) — Recipient of the Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize.

Craig Douglas , Faculty Advisor

A hero shot with the word “Jua” on a phone mockup to the left, next to a network diagram overlaid on an aerial shot of a farm on the right.

2023 Outstanding Design Engineering Project Award: Rebecca Brand and Caroline Fong’s Jua: Cultivating Digital Knowledge Networks for Smallholder Farmers

by Rebecca Brand (MDE ’23) and…

Jock Herron , Faculty Advisor

Physical Model

2023 James Templeton Kelley Prize: Deok Kyu Chung’s “Boundaries of Everyday: walls to voids, voids to solids, solids to walls”

by Deok Kyu Chung (MArch II ’23) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize,…

Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, Faculty Advisors

Four stills from a video, where the narrator is flipping and pointing at images on a printed book of Act 1 and Act 2. The images on the page are the cover of the book, the Oak Alley Plantation house, lost enslaved landscapes such as the swamp, ditch, and plot, and the webpage of Oak Alley taken from The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s website.

2023 Landscape Architecture AP Thesis Prize: Celina Abba and Enrique Cavelier’s Plantation Futures: Foregrounding Lost Narratives

by Celina Abba (MLA I AP ’23) and Enrique…

Picture of people interacting on a snowy surface in a city surrounded by buildings

2023 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize, Honorable Mention: “Truly, Oregon! Empower Lloyd Center, Portland, OR”

by Heejin Park (MAUD ’23), Terry Kim (MUP ’23), Aelin Shaoyu Li (MDes ’24), Claire…

Richard Peiser , Instructor

A graphic of a large set of buildings on a coast.

2023 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize, First Prize: “The Gansevoort: Design for Longevity”

by Xinxin Cheryl Lin (MArch II ’24), Vivian Cheng (MAUD ’23), and Pinyang Paul Chen…

Ben van Berkel and Dana Behrman, Instructors

thesis design and engineering

2023 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize, Second Prize: “Boyd Street Gateway”

by Maddie Farrer (MArch I ‘25), Madeleine Levin (MUP ‘23), and Arielle Rawlings (MUP ‘23)…

Edward Marchant, Instructor

Spring 2022

visualization of geometric white clouds on dark purple background

2022 Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize: Liwei Shen’s “The Echoes of Sky River – Two Pre-modern and Modern Atmospheric Assemblages”

by Liwei Shen (MLA I ’22) — Recipient of the Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize. The…


2022 James Templeton Kelley Prize: Remi McClain’s “There Goes the Neighborhood”

by Remi McClain (MArch II ’22) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize, Master…

Mark Lee and Erika Naginski , Faculty Advisors

Black and white photo of wood architectural model shown on angle; structural is one story and long with a moderately sloped roof

2022 James Templeton Kelley Prize: Isaac Henry Pollan’s “This Is Not A Firehouse”

by Isaac Henry Pollan (MArch I ’22) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize,…

Sean Canty , Faculty Advisor

Section Perspective

2022 Clifford Wong Prize in Housing Design: Brian Lee’s “People’s Park Complex: Repairing the Modern City”

by Brian Lee (MArch ’22) — Recipient of the 2021 Clifford Wong Prize in…

Grace La and Jenny French , Faculty Advisors

thesis design and engineering

2022 Peter Rice Prize: Hangsoo Jeong’s “Upon Concrete: Retrofitting Architecture with Malleability”

by Hangsoo Jeong (MArch ’22) — Recipient of the Peter Rice Prize   Upon Concrete:…

Mark Lee, Faculty Advisor

Exploded axonometric.

2022 Digital Design Prize: George Guida’s “Multimodal Architecture: Applications of Language in a Machine Learning Aided Design Process”

by George Guida (MArch II ’22) — Recipient of the Digital Design Prize. This thesis…

Andrew Witt and Jose Luis Garcia del Castillo Lopez , Faculty Advisors

Drawing of a boulevard with grocery store, ice cream stall and people strolling around

2022 Urban Design Thesis Prize: Rogelio Cadena’s “How Are ‘We’ Living? Reevaluating the Chicago Boulevard System”

by Rogelio Cadena (MAUD ’22) — Recipient of the Urban Design Thesis Prize. At its…

Stephen Gray , Faculty Advisor

Infographic titled Research Overview showing power outlet labeled electrification, a house labeled envelope upgrades and sun with thunder labeled renewable energy

2022 Design Studies Thesis Prize: Allison Hyatt’s “Priorities in Building Decarbonization: Accounting for total carbon and the time value of carbon in cost-benefit analyses of residential retrofits”

by Allison Hyatt (MDes ’22) — Recipient of the Design Studies Thesis Prize. Energy consumption…

Holly Samuelson , Faculty Advisor

Rendering split in two parts horizontally. The upper parts shows buildings in the city context and below part shows the underground part in black and white colors

2022 James Templeton Kelley Prize: Qin Ye Chen’s “Fluid Permanence – A Shotengai-Archive in Tokyo”

by Qin Ye Chen (MArch I ’22) — Recipient of the James Templeton Kelley Prize,…

Mohsen Mostafavi , Faculty Advisor

Derby Vassall

2022 Design Studies Thesis Prize: Nicole Piepenbrink’s “HERE LIES DARBY VASSALL: Rendering the obscured and concealed history of slavery at Christ Church Cambridge”

by Nicole Piepenbrink (MDes ’22) — Recipient of the Design Studies Thesis Prize. The material…

Susan Snyder, George Thomas and Krzysztof Wodiczko , Faculty Advisors

visualization of swirled formation; blue dusk sky in the background

2022 Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize: Lucy Humphreys Chebot’s “Reciprocal Optimism: Projecting Terrestrial Analogues”

by Lucy Humphreys Chebot (MLA I ’22) — Recipient of the Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize.

Danielle Choi , Faculty Advisor

Pages from US Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction's, New Plant Introductions 1914–1915 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1915), 73-90, featuring electrotyped descriptions of imported plants sent to SPI cooperators, each with its assigned Plant Introduction (PI) Number.

2022 Design Studies Thesis Prize: Anny Li’s “The World Was Their Garden: Plant introductions at the US Department of Agriculture, 1898–1984”

by Anny Li (MDes ’22) — Recipient of the Design Studies Thesis Prize. In 1898,…

Edward Eigen , Faculty Advisor

Visualization of courtyard space with red striped tents, colorful string flags with people barbequing, dancing and chatting around the scene; green trees and wood building in background

2022 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize, First Prize: “Bracing Peter Bracy”

by Hana Cohn (MLA I ’24), Youngju Kim (MAUD ’23), Arami Matevosyan (MDes REBE ’22),…

Gina Ford and Rhiannon Sinclair, Instructors

Rendering of woman looking out at building complex.

2022 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize, Second Prize: “Miami Gateway”

by Nicolas Carmona (MArch II ’22), George Guida (MArch II ’22), and Manu Moritz (MDes…

Elizabeth Whittaker and Corey Zehngebot, Instructors

Outdoor space with four palm trees, colorful advertisements and people sitting on benches

2022 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize, Third Prize: “Urban Health Catalyst”

by Vicky Chen (MAUD/ MDes REBE ’22) and Xudong Zhu (MAUD ’22) — Recipients of…

Unrolled elevations with floorplan in the center.

2021 Architecture Faculty Design Award: Anna Kaertner’s “Equivocal Elevations”

by Anna Kaertner (MArch I ’21) — Recipient of the Architecture Faculty Design Award, Master…

Diane Davis Megan Panzano , Faculty Advisor

Spring 2021

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Digital Commons @ USF > College of Engineering > Mechanical Engineering > Theses and Dissertations

Mechanical Engineering Theses and Dissertations

Theses/dissertations from 2023 2023.

Metachronal Locomotion: Swimming, Scaling, and Schooling , Kuvvat Garayev

A Human-in-the-Loop Robot Grasping System with Grasp Quality Refinement , Tian Tan

Theses/Dissertations from 2022 2022

Health Effects of Oil Spills and Dispersal of Oil Droplets and Zooplankton by Langmuir Cells , Sanjib Gurung

Estimating the As-Placed Grout Volume of Auger Cast Piles , Tristen Mee

Hybrid RANS-LES Hemolytic Power Law Modeling of the FDA Blood Pump , Joseph Tarriela

Theses/Dissertations from 2021 2021

Dynamic Loading Directed Neural Stem Cell Differentiation , Abdullah Revaha Akdemir

An Investigation of Cross-links on Crystallization and Degradation in a Novel, PhotoCross-linkable Poly (Lactic Acid) System , Nicholas Baksh

A Framework to Aid Decision Making for Smart Manufacturing Technologies in Small-and Medium-Sized Enterprises , Purvee Bhatia

Formation of Gas Jets and Vortex Rings from Bursting Bubbles: Visualization, Kinematics, and Fluid Dynamics , Ali A. Dasouqi

Development of Carbon and Silicon Carbide Based Microelectrode Implantable Neural Interfaces , Chenyin Feng

Sulfate Optimization in the Cement-Slag Blended System Based on Calorimetry and Strength Studies , Mustafa Fincan

Interrelation of Thermal Stimulation with Haptic Perception, Emotion, and Memory , Mehdi Hojatmadani

Modeling the Ambient Conditions of a Manufacturing Environment Using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) , Yang Liu

Flow Visualization and Aerosol Characterization of Respiratory Jets Exhaled from a Mannequin Simulator , Sindhu Reddy Mutra

A Constitutive-Based Deep Learning Model for the Identification of Active Contraction Parameters of the Left Ventricular Myocardium , Igor Augusto Paschoalotte Nobrega

Sensible/Latent Hybrid Thermal Energy Storage for the Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton Cycle , Kelly Osterman

Evaluating the Performance of Devices Engineering to Quantify the FARS Test , Harsh Patel

Event-Triggered Control Architectures for Scheduling Information Exchange in Uncertain and Multiagent Systems , Stefan Ristevski

Theses/Dissertations from 2020 2020

Experimental Investigation of Liquid Height Estimation and Simulation Verification of Bolt Tension Quantification Using Surface Acoustic Waves , Hani Alhazmi

Investigation of Navigation Systems for Size, Cost, and Mass Constrained Satellites , Omar Awad

Simulation and Verification of Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage , Marwan Mosubah Belaed

Control of a Human Arm Robotic Unit Using Augmented Reality and Optimized Kinematics , Carlo Canezo

Manipulation and Patterning of Mammalian Cells Using Vibrations and Acoustic Forces , Joel Cooper

Stable Adaptive Control Systems in the Presence of Unmodeled and Actuator Dynamics , Kadriye Merve Dogan

The Design and Development of a Wrist-Hand Orthosis , Amber Gatto

ROBOAT - Rescue Operations Bot Operating in All Terrains , Akshay Gulhane

Mitigation of Electromigration in Metal Interconnects Passivated by Ångstrom-Thin 2D Materials , Yunjo Jeong

Swimming of Pelagic Snails: Kinematics and Fluid Dynamics , Ferhat Karakas

Functional Gait Asymmetries Achieved Through Modeling and Understanding the Interaction of Multiple Gait Modulations , Fatemeh Rasouli

Distributed Control of Multiagent Systems under Heterogeneity , Selahattin Burak Sarsilmaz

Design and Implementation of Intuitive Human-robot Teleoperation Interfaces , Lei Wu

Laser Micropatterning Effects on Corrosion Resistance of Pure Magnesium Surfaces , Yahya Efe Yayoglu

Theses/Dissertations from 2019 2019

Synthesis and Characterization of Molybdenum Disulfide/Conducting Polymer Nanocomposite Materials for Supercapacitor Applications , Turki S. Alamro

Design of Shape-Morphing Structures Consisting of Bistable Compliant Mechanisms , Rami Alfattani

Low Temperature Multi Effects Desalination-Mechanical Vapor Compression Powered by Supercritical Organic Rankine Cycle , Eydhah Almatrafi

Experimental Results of a Model Reference Adaptive Control Approach on an Interconnected Uncertain Dynamical System , Kemberly Cespedes

Modeling of Buildings with Electrochromic Windows and Thermochromic Roofs , Hua-Ting Kao

Design and Testing of Experimental Langmuir Turbulence Facilities , Zongze Li

Solar Thermal Geothermal Hybrid System With a Bottoming Supercritical Organic Rankine Cycle , Francesca Moloney

Design and Testing of a Reciprocating Wind Harvester , Ahmet Topcuoglu

Distributed Spatiotemporal Control and Dynamic Information Fusion for Multiagent Systems , Dzung Minh Duc Tran

Controlled Wetting Using Ultrasonic Vibration , Matthew A. Trapuzzano

On Distributed Control of Multiagent Systems under Adverse Conditions , Emre Yildirim

Theses/Dissertations from 2018 2018

Synthesis and Characterization of Alpha-Hematite Nanomaterials for Water-Splitting Applications , Hussein Alrobei

Control of Uncertain Dynamical Systems with Spatial and Temporal Constraints , Ehsan Arabi

Simulation and Optimization of a Sheathless Size-Based Acoustic Particle Separator , Shivaraman Asoda

Simulation of Radiation Flux from Thermal Fluid in Origami Tubes , Robert R. Bebeau

Toward Verifiable Adaptive Control Systems: High-Performance and Robust Architectures , Benjamin Charles Gruenwald

Developing Motion Platform Dynamics for Studying Biomechanical Responses During Exercise for Human Spaceflight Applications , Kaitlin Lostroscio

Design and Testing of a Linear Compliant Mechanism with Adjustable Force Output , William Niemeier

Investigation of Thermal History in Large Area Projection Sintering, an Additive Manufacturing Technology , Justin Nussbaum

Acoustic Source Localization with a VTOL sUAV Deployable Module , Kory Olney

Defect Detection in Additive Manufacturing Utilizing Long Pulse Thermography , James Pierce

Design and Testing of a Passive Prosthetic Ankle Foot Optimized to Mimic an Able-Bodied Gait , Millicent Schlafly

Simulation of Turbulent Air Jet Impingement for Commercial Cooking Applications , Shantanu S. Shevade

Materials and Methods to Fabricate Porous Structures Using Additive Manufacturing Techniques , Mohsen Ziaee

Theses/Dissertations from 2017 2017

Large Area Sintering Test Platform Design and Preliminary Study on Cross Sectional Resolution , Christopher J. Gardiner

Enhanced Visible Light Photocatalytic Remediation of Organics in Water Using Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide Nanostructures , Srikanth Gunti

Heat Flux Modeling of Asymmetrically Heated and Cooled Thermal Stimuli , Matthew Hardy

Simulation of Hemiparetic Function Using a Knee Orthosis with Variable Impedance and a Proprioception Interference Apparatus , Christina-Anne Kathleen Lahiff

Synthesis, Characterization, and Application of Molybdenum Oxide Nanomaterials , Michael S. McCrory

Effects of Microstructure and Alloy Concentration on the Corrosion and Tribocorrosion Resistance of Al-Mn and WE43 Mg Alloys , Hesham Y. Saleh Mraied

Novel Transducer Calibration and Simulation Verification of Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) Channels on Acoustic Microfluidic Devices , Scott T. Padilla

Force Compensation and Recreation Accuracy in Humans , Benjamin Rigsby

Experimental Evaluation of Cooling Effectiveness and Water Conservation in a Poultry House Using Flow Blurring ® Atomizers , Rafael M. Rodriguez

Media Velocity Considerations in Pleated Air Filtration , Frederik Carl Schousboe

Orthoplanar Spring Based Compliant Force/Torque Sensor for Robot Force Control , Jerry West

Experimental Study of High-Temperature Range Latent Heat Thermal Energy Storage , Chatura Wickramaratne

Theses/Dissertations from 2016 2016

Al/Ti Nanostructured Multilayers: from Mechanical, Tribological, to Corrosion Properties , Sina Izadi

Molybdenum Disulfide-Conducting Polymer Composite Structures for Electrochemical Biosensor Applications , Hongxiang Jia

Waterproofing Shape-Changing Mechanisms Using Origami Engineering; Also a Mechanical Property Evaluation Approach for Rapid Prototyping , Andrew Jason Katz

Hydrogen Effects on X80 Steel Mechanical Properties Measured by Tensile and Impact Testing , Xuan Li

Application and Analysis of Asymmetrical Hot and Cold Stimuli , Ahmad Manasrah

Droplet-based Mechanical Actuator Utilizing Electrowetting Effect , Qi Ni

Experimental and Computational Study on Fracture Mechanics of Multilayered Structures , Hai Thanh Tran

Designing the Haptic Interface for Morse Code , Michael Walker

Optimization and Characterization of Integrated Microfluidic Surface Acoustic Wave Sensors and Transducers , Tao Wang

Corrosion Characteristics of Magnesium under Varying Surface Roughness Conditions , Yahya Efe Yayoglu

Theses/Dissertations from 2015 2015

Carbon Dioxide (CO 2 ) Emissions, Human Energy, and Cultural Perceptions Associated with Traditional and Improved Methods of Shea Butter Processing in Ghana, West Africa , Emily Adams

Experimental Investigation of Encapsulated Phase Change Materials for Thermal Energy Storage , Tanvir E. Alam

Design Of Shape Morphing Structures Using Bistable Elements , Ahmad Alqasimi

Heat Transfer Analysis of Slot Jet Impingement onto Roughened Surfaces , Rashid Ali Alshatti

Systems Approach to Producing Electrospun Polyvinylidene Difluoride Fiber Webs with Controlled Fiber Structure and Functionality , Brian D. Bell

Self-Assembly Kinetics of Microscale Components: A Parametric Evaluation , Jose Miguel Carballo

Measuring Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) Mechanical Properties Using Flat Punch Nanoindentation Focusing on Obtaining Full Contact , Federico De Paoli

A Numerical and Experimental Investigation of Flow Induced Noise In Hydraulic Counterbalance Valves , Mutasim Mohamed Elsheikh

An Experimental Study on Passive Dynamic Walking , Philip Andrew Hatzitheodorou

Use of Anaerobic Adhesive for Prevailing Torque Locking Feature on Threaded Product , Alan Hernandez

Viability of Bismuth as a Green Substitute for Lead in Jacketed .357 Magnum Revolver Bullets , Joel A. Jenkins

A Planar Pseudo-Rigid-Body Model for Cantilevers Experiencing Combined Endpoint Forces and Uniformly Distributed Loads Acting in Parallel , Philip James Logan

Kinematic Control of Redundant Mobile Manipulators , Mustafa Mashali

Passive Symmetry in Dynamic Systems and Walking , Haris Muratagic

Mechanical Properties of Laser-Sintered-Nylon Diamond Lattices , Clayton Neff

Design, Fabrication and Analysis of a Paver Machine Push Bar Mechanism , Mahendra Palnati

Synthesis, Characterization, and Electrochemical Properties of Polyaniline Thin Films , Soukaina Rami

A Technical and Economic Comparative Analysis of Sensible and Latent Heat Packed Bed Storage Systems for Concentrating Solar Thermal Power Plants , Jamie Trahan

Use of FDM Components for Ion Beam and Vacuum Applications , Eric Miguel Tridas

The Development of an Adaptive Driving Simulator , Sarah Marie Tudor

Dual 7-Degree-of-Freedom Robotic Arm Remote Teleoperation Using Haptic Devices , Yu-Cheng Wang

Ductility and Use of Titanium Alloy and Stainless Steel Aerospace Fasteners , Jarrod Talbott Whittaker

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Home > Industrial Design > Industrial Design Masters Theses

Industrial Design

Industrial Design Masters Theses

The Master of Industrial Design program explores design as a vehicle for addressing social, cultural, environmental and other concerns, recognizing that design is not simply a professional service, but rather a way of connecting individual interests and values with a social framework. Students with undergraduate degrees in other fields or with limited design experience are invited to enter the program during Wintersession as a means of preparing to begin the two-year master’s program the following fall.

ID covers a broad range of fields, from product and furniture explorations to design for aerospace and medical applications. Graduate students work independently under the guidance of a faculty advisor and thesis committee, and present their final work verbally, visually and in writing. They also participate in the RISD Graduate Thesis Exhibition , a large-scale public show held annually.

“Graduate candidates in ID don’t necessarily need an undergraduate degree in the field, but they do need strong visual communication skills. For those without an ID background, learning CAD, drawing and model making can be beneficial, and taking a general product design course can provide insight into the design process. Materials-based courses in a medium such as metal, glass, textiles, ceramics or wood also provide a good basis for work in ID.” - Andy Law, Graduate Program Director

Graduate Program Director: Andy Law

These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License .

Theses from 2023 2023

Kole , Isaiah Aladejobi

Fungi in Flux | Designing Regenerative Materials and Products with Mycelium , Arvind Bhallamudi

MILITURE , Bingdong Duan


Freedom is a Leaky System: Living Together in the Mess , Calgary Haines-Trautman

Food, Drink, Time, New Year and Cloth , Jian Li

Making That Carries Over , Jae Nam

How to make a hybrid workplace more human? , Ray Sun

Unveiling Pain: Wearables for Objective Pain Measurement , Hanqing Tang


Knot, Just Craft It , Qingxian Xu

Theses from 2022 2022

Ready made, made ready: everyday objects for everyday emergency , Dara Benno

Memories unboxed: connecting people with stories of our possessions , Megan Tzu-Hsien Chao

To be seen to be heard: embracing social anxiety in the workplace , Jingxuan Chen

Attuning the viewfinder , Ian de Silva

Disoriented: navigating the nuances of communication , Ann Dinh

Sobremesa , Charlie Herbozo-Vidal

Vulva gazing: power and the gendered body , Aaliya Jamal Zaidi

A fleeting landscape: resurrecting the edges of the estuary , Vrinda Mathur

Material Illumination , Lauren Mikaela Glenn

Extended reality interface , Neil Nelson

Breaking | Grounding | Growing: Expanding the Rhode Island gardening reentry programs as a pathway towards stability , Juliana Soltys

We got this... , Julian Wellisz

Sub Sequence : building a participatory infrastructure , Aaron Wright

Theses from 2021 2021

Designing for space; exploring ways of simulating nature and everyday activities in zero-g environment , Sayit Alisan

Psychological well-being through music listening , Majed BouGhanem

Shoes for advanced urban surfaces , Karan Buasakdi

After plastic waste : plastic bottle knitting machine - design for value of recycling plastic , Du Cheng

Katti-Batti : a digital tool for young adolescents to transgress the limitations of gender socialization through empathy & friendship , Chetan Dusane

Beyond conscious: the knowing of self-owned anxiety , WenYu Du

Rebuilt the fading vicinity , Yifan Du

The portal : a tool for uncertain times , Sophie Engel

Inter - : design for fostering action-oriented awareness towards sustainable transition , Elena Danlei Huang

Move in the internet , Jennifer Ziyuan Huang

Living objects , Katie Tzu Hua Huang

The art of microbe maintenance: value and applications in design , Yujin Hwang

Distilling the Narragansett Bay , Parker Ives

Kitsch study and Chinese kitsch market , Jiaqi Ellie Liu

Beacon Public Library: expanding radical civic care for an uncertain future , Katrina Machado

Ars Technica , Bayan Mashrequi

Inside the bubble 2.0 , Sunny Yuqing Ma

Wild things: outdoor toys for nature play , John Mawhorter

Indefinite origin: decentralizing knowledge , Tong-June Moon

No winners: transgender athletes in cycling , Max Pratt

Zoomorphic extended body , Nicholas Tamas

Uncertainty wanted: deconstructing gender gap in parenting mentality , Zimeng Xiang

A family game: tell the stories that shape us , Zhuoyan Xie

Theses from 2020 2020

Sol , John Beck

Repairer's recipe : volume 0 , Joyce Chang

Experience the world: How the ever-present accessibility of hands-on opportunities & play enhance logistical learning , Mary E. Chavez

Ocean state food stories , Charlotte Clement

Beautiful dirt : exploring the American taboo of death through the things we leave behind , Jake Dangstorp

Designed body , Jingwei Deng

Acute , Alex D'Haeseleer

Mimesis : human-centered digital profiling visual identity , Yangyang Ding

Voran Test Lab : An exploration of teaching collaborative problem solving and critical thinking through emergent gameplay , Taber Gifford

inVisible: a guide to understanding & designing for introverts , Ashesh Gohil

Through the labyrinth , Rebeca Gonzalez Morales

+ one : a new companionship , Vivien Mengjiao Han

Lift a life , Vidur Madhav

Night Knights: reminding children that their nighttime fear isn't something they have to face alone , Ji Hyung Moon

Fifty fifty: redefining domesticity , Ziying Qiao

The objects around us. , Rohit Sen

Accessibility to possibilities : discover the unknown unknown worlds , Yutong Shen

Totem: An embodiment of human character and personality in footwear design , Sushant Shivaram

Togather: To gather together , Kyungah Sohn

Surviving in a gregarious world , Shiyang Yao

Ether: a social design , Zihan Zhou

Theses from 2019 2019

Biomatters : future of biology as material source , Tareq Alzawawi

Mindful interactions , Shreyans Bhandari

Unimproved : land observation at the edge of progress , Adam Somers Bowen

Bitter son , Adam Chuong

Pekka : social software to improve in-game dynamics , Yu Mo

Theses from 2018 2018

Autonomous vehicle futures : designing experiences that enable trust and adoption , Jeremy Bass

Foodways for earthlings : recipes and tools for eating in extreme environments , Maggie Coblentz

Curious things , Allison Davis

Idiosyncratic uniform , Erica Efstratoudakis

Really clean no problems at all , Christina Johnston

Letsqube , Biniam Assegid Kebede

For a better normal : fostering the informal sector in post-hurricane Puerto Rico, as a pathway for economic stabilization , Jonathan W. Melendez Davidson

Harmless Studio , David Thomas Pittman

Dispatches from planet nowhere , Aaron Field Simmons

Radically normal : the menstruation issue , Kathryn Smiley

Talking to computers , Jen Spatz

A place for plastics : bioplastics, bacteria and our thoughtless acts , Megan Valanidas , Yu-Hsing Wu

Theses from 2017 2017

Communicatronics , Adi Azulay

Balance speaker : efficient work and break , Jin Cao

Talistones : a handful of help for homecoming soldiers , Atulya Changanty

Magkasama , Christina Chen

Retooling : experiments in digital apprenticeship , Ryan Ferguson

Body (less) fitness , Dan Gioia

Love view , Wudi Hong

Connections : a new model to customizing everything , Shao-Hsuan Hou

Motivated motivation : a consulting tool to find new platforms for business , Xiaoxio Jin

Embracing traditional Chinese culture through design , Jiaxuan Li

P-Lax : toys for adults, to play & relax , Zhizi Liu

Empowerment of people of all abilities , Kasia Matlak

Jettison all stories : experimenting with our relationship to the physical , Alyssa R. Mayo

Transitions : designing acceptance in a world of change , Hanna McLaughlin

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Home > Engineering & Technology > MAE > ETDs

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Theses & Dissertations

Theses and dissertations published by graduate students in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering, Old Dominion University since Fall 2016 are available in this collection. Backfiles of all dissertations (and some theses) have also been added.

In late Fall 2023 or Spring 2024, all theses will be digitized and available here. In the meantime, consult the Library Catalog to find older items in print.

Theses/Dissertations from 2023 2023

Thesis: Switching Methods for Three-Dimensional Rotational Dynamics Using Modified Rodrigues Parameters , Matthew Jarrett Banks

Dissertation: Studies of Flowfields and Dynamic Stability Characteristics of a Quadrotor , Engin Baris

Thesis: Development, Experimental Validation, and Progressive Failure Modeling of an Ultra-Thin High Stiffness Deployable Composite Boom for in-Space Applications , Jimesh D. Bhagatji

Thesis: Design and Implementation of a Launching Method for Free to Oscillate Dynamic Stability Testing , Kristen M. Carey

Thesis: SeaLion CubeSat Mission Architecture Using Model Based Systems Engineering with a Docs as Code Approach , Kevin Yi-Tzu Chiu

Dissertation: RoboRetrieve --In a Dual Role as a Hand-held Surgical Robot and a Collaborative Robot End-effector to Perform Spillage-free Specimen Retrieval in Laparoscopy , Siqin Dong

Thesis: Fabrication of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Components Using Stereolithography 3D Printing , Hannah Dyer

Thesis: Fusion Bonding Behavior of 3D Printed PA6/CF Composites Via Post Fabrication Compaction , Gonzalo Fernandez Mediavilla

Dissertation: Machine Learning Approach to Activity Categorization in Young Adults Using Biomechanical Metrics , Nathan Q. C. Holland

Thesis: Study of Microphonic Effects on the C100 Cryomodule for High Energy Electron Beam Accelerators , Caleb James Hull

Dissertation: E-Cadherin Force Transmission and Stiffness Sensing , Mazen Mezher

Thesis: Experimental and Computational Aerodynamic Studies of Axially-Oriented Low-Fineness-Ratio Cylinders , Forrest Miller

Thesis: The Effect of Through Thickness Reinforcement Angle on the Disbonding Behavior in Skin-Stringer Configuration , Christopher John Morris

Dissertation: Chemical and Physical Interaction Mechanisms and Multifunctional Properties of Plant Based Graphene in Carbon Fiber Epoxy Composites , Daniel W. Mulqueen

Thesis: Data-Driven Predictive Modeling to Enhance Search Efficiency of Glowworm-Inspired Robotic Swarms in Multiple Emission Source Localization Tasks , Payal Nandi

Dissertation: Fabrication of Smooth SAC305 Thin Films via Magnetron Sputtering and Evaluations of Microstructure, Creep, and Electrical Resistivity , Manish Ojha

Dissertation: Faster, Cheaper, and Better CFD: A Case for Machine Learning to Augment Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes , John Peter Romano II

Thesis: A Comparative Study of Vinti-Based Orbit Propagation and Estimation for CubeSats in Very Low Earth Orbits , Ethan Michael Senecal

Theses/Dissertations from 2022 2022

Thesis: A Comparison of Uniaxial Compressive Response and Inelastic Deformation Mechanisms in Freeze Cast Alumina-Epoxy Composites Without and With Rigid Confinement , Tareq Aljuhari

Thesis: Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis of a Very Low Earth Orbit CubeSat Mission , Robb Christopher Borowicz

Thesis: A Study of Asymmetric Supersonic Wind Tunnel Nozzle Design , Brittany A. Davis

Thesis: Electromagnetic Modeling of a Wind Tunnel Magnetic Suspension and Balance System , Desiree Driver

Dissertation: Advanced Generalized Predictive Control and Its Application to Tiltrotor Aircraft for Stability Augmentation and Vibration Reduction , Thomas Glen Ivanco

Dissertation: Numerical Simulation of Electroosmotic Flow of Viscoelastic Fluid in Microchannel , Jianyu Ji

Thesis: Assembly of Ceramic Particles in Aqueous Suspensions Induced by High-Frequency AC Electric Field , James E. John IV

Dissertation: The Effect of Soft Tissue and Bone Morphology on the Stresses in the Foot and Ankle , Jinhyuk Kim

Thesis: Development of Modeling and Simulation Platform for Path-Planning and Control of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles in Three-Dimensional Spaces , Sai Krishna Abhiram Kondapalli

Thesis: Deep Learning Object-Based Detection of Manufacturing Defects in X-ray Inspection Imaging , Juan C. Parducci

Dissertation: Utilization of Finite Element Analysis Techniques for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Surgical Planning , Michael A. Polanco

Thesis: Mechanics of Preimpregnated Fiber Tow Deposition and Compaction , Virginia Meredith Rauch

Dissertation: Role of Structural Hierarchy in Multiscale Material Systems , Siavash Sattar

Thesis: Implementation of an Extended Kalman Filter Using Inertial Sensor Data for UAVs During GPS Denied Applications , Sky Seliquini

Dissertation: Collaborative Robotics Strategies for Handling Non-Repetitive Micro-Drilling Tasks Characterized by Low Structural Mechanical Impedance , Xiangyu Wang

Theses/Dissertations from 2021 2021

Dissertation: Tunable Compressive Mechanical Behavior of Ice-Templated Materials , Sashanka Akurati

Thesis: Analysis of a Non-Equilibrium Vortex Pair as Aircraft Trailing Vortices , Manuel Ayala

Thesis: Modeling Interactions in Concentrated Ceramic Suspensions Under AC Electric Field , Naga Bharath Gundrati

Dissertation: Improved Strain Gage Instrumentation Strategies for Rotorcraft Blade Measurements , Timothy S. Davis

Thesis: A Model-Based Systems Engineering Approach to e-VTOL Aircraft and Airspace Infrastructure Design for Urban Air Mobility , Heidi Selina Glaudel

Dissertation: Development and Applications of Adjoint-Based Aerodynamic and Aeroacoustic Multidisciplinary Optimization for Rotorcraft , Ramiz Omur Icke

Thesis: A New Method for Estimating the Physical Characteristics of Martian Dust Devils , Shelly Cahoon Mann

Thesis: Post-Processing and Characterization of Additive Manufactured Carbon Fiber Reinforced Semi-Crystalline Polymers , Patricia Revolinsky

Thesis: Gradient-Based Tradeoff Design for Engineering Applications , Lena Alexis Royster

Thesis: The Effect of Through Thickness Reinforcement on Debonding Behavior of Skin/Stringer Configuration , Yogaraja Sridhar

Thesis: Empirical Modeling of Tilt-Rotor Aerodynamic Performance , Michael C. Stratton

Thesis: A Digital One Degree of Freedom Model of an Electromagnetic Position Sensor , Michelle Elizabeth Weinmann

Theses/Dissertations from 2020 2020

Thesis: Parametric Study of Residual Stresses in Wire and Arc Additive Manufactured Parts , Hisham Khaled Jamil Abusalma

Thesis: The Effect of Compaction Temperature and Pressure on Mechanical Properties of 3D Printed Short Glass Fiber Composites , Pushpashree Jain Ajith Kumar Jain

Thesis: Numerical Analysis of a Roadway Piezoelectric Harvesting System , Abdul Rahman Badawi

Dissertation: Role of Anisometric Particles in Ice-Templated Porous Ceramic Structure and Mechanical Properties , Mahesh Banda

Thesis: Mechanism of Compaction With Wrinkle Formation During Automatic Stitching of Dry Fabrics and the Size Effect of Compression Molded Discontinuous Fiber-Reinforced Composites , Anibal Benjamin Beltran Laredo

Thesis: Conical Orbital Mechanics: A Rework of Classic Orbit Transfer Mechanics , Cian Anthony Branco

Thesis: Rotorcraft Blade Angle Calibration Methods , Brian David Calvert Jr.

Dissertation: Onboard Autonomous Controllability Assessment for Fixed Wing sUAVs , Brian Edward Duvall

Thesis: A Parametric Analysis of a Turbofan Engine with an Auxiliary Bypass Combustion Chamber – The TurboAux Engine , Kaleab Fetahi

Thesis: Space-Based Countermeasure for Hypersonic Glide Vehicle , Robert Joseph Fowler IV

Thesis: Compaction and Residual Stress Modeling in Composite Manufactured with Automated Fiber Placement , Von Clyde Jamora

Thesis: Trajectory Simulation With Battery Modeling for Electric Powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicles , Ege Konuk

Thesis: Detailed Modeling of the Flash Hydrolysis of Algae for Biofuel-Production in COMSOL Multiphysics , Noah Joseph LeGrand

Thesis: Through-Thickness Reinforcement and Repair of Carbon Fiber Based Honeycomb Structures Under Flexure and Tension of Adhesively Bonded Joints , Aleric Alden Sanders

Thesis: Energy Harvesting Using Flextensional Piezoelectric Energy Harvesters in Resonance and Off-Resonance Modes , Mohamed A. Shabara

Thesis: Thermal Contact Resistance Measurement and Related Uncertainties , Amanda Elizabeth Stark

Thesis: Model Based Systems Engineering for a Venture Class Launch Facility , Walter McGee Taraila

Thesis: A Post-Impact Behavior of Platelet-Based Composites Produced by Compression Molding , Christopher Eugene Ervin Volle

Thesis: Nonlinearity Index Aircraft Spin Motion Analysis With Dynamic Inversion Spin Recovery Controller Design , Jeffry Walker

Thesis: A Study of the Aeroacoustics of Swept Propellers for Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles , Arthur David Wiedemann

Thesis: Finite Element Analysis Investigation of Hybrid Thin-Ply Composites for Improved Performance of Aerospace Structures , Alana M. Zahn

Theses/Dissertations from 2019 2019

Thesis: Characterization and Optimization of a Propeller Test Stand , Colin Bruce Leighton Benjamin

Dissertation: Endogenous Force Transmission Between Epithelial Cells and a Role for α-Catenin , Sandeep Dumbali

Dissertation: Effect of the Physical Micro-Environment on Cell Adhesion and Force Exertion , Mohamad Eftekharjoo

Thesis: Reducing the Noise Impact of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Flight Control System Augmentation , Matthew B. Galles

Thesis: Design and Manufacture of an Inertial Cascade Impactor for Industrial Hygiene Purposes , Hector Joel Gortaire

Thesis: Off Axis Compressive Response of Ice-Templated Ceramics , Rahul Kumar Jujjavarapu

Thesis: Unsupervised-Learning Assisted Artificial Neural Network for Optimization , Varun Kote

Dissertation: Numerical Simulation of Viscoelastic Flow in Micro/Nanochannels , Lanju Mei

Thesis: Comparison of Support Methods for Static Aerodynamic Testing and Validation of a Magnetic Suspension and Balance System , Cameron K. Neill

Thesis: Extension of a Penalty Method for Numerically Solving Constrained Multibody Dynamic Problems , Troy Newhart

Dissertation: Computational Analysis and Design Optimization of Convective PCR Devices , Jung Il Shu

Thesis: Periodic Orbit Analytic Construction In The Circular Restricted Three-Body Problem , Jay Shriram Suryawanshi

Thesis: A CFD Study of Steady Fully Developed Laminar Flow Through a 90-Degree Bend Pipe with a Square Cross-Sectional Area , Subodh Sushant Toraskar

Dissertation: Estimation of Arterial Wall Parameters Via Model-Based Analysis of Noninvasively Measured Arterial Pulse Signals , Dan Wang

Theses/Dissertations from 2018 2018

Thesis: Offshore Wind Energy: Simulating Local Offshore Wind Turbine , Ian P. Aquino

Dissertation: Epithelial Sheet Response to External Stimuli , Yashar Bashirzadeh

Thesis: Anthropomorphically Inspired Design of a Tendon-Driven Robotic Prosthesis for Hand Impairments , Manali Bapurao Bhadugale

Thesis: Aerothermodynamic Analysis of a Mars Sample Return Earth-Entry Vehicle , Daniel A. Boyd

Thesis: Volterra Series Approximation for Multi-Degree of Freedom, Multi-Input, Multi-Output, Aircraft Dynamics , Alexander J. Chen

Dissertation: Simplified, Alternative Formulation of Numerical Simulation of Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell , Russell L. Edwards

Thesis: Distributed Sensing and System Identification of Cantilever Beams and Plates in the Presence of Weak Nonlinearities , Patrick Sean Heaney

Thesis: Dynamic Response Modeling of High Speed Planing Craft with Enforced Acceleration , Brian K. Johnson

Dissertation: Identification and Optimal Linear Tracking Control of ODU Autonomous Surface Vehicle , Nadeem Khan

Dissertation: Design and Implementation of an Artificial Neural Network Controller for Quadrotor Flight in Confined Environment , Ahmed Mekky

Thesis: Gust Alleviation System for General Aviation Aircraft , Lucas Coleman Mills

Thesis: Human-Robot Collaborative Force-Controlled Micro-Drilling for Advanced Manufacturing and Medical Applications , Parimal Mahesh Prajapati

Thesis: Single-Stage, Venturi-Driven Desalination System , Brandon Proetto

Thesis: A Cost Effective Design for a Propeller Thrust/Torque Balance , Nicholas Barrett Sadowski

Dissertation: Understanding the Mechanical Behavior of Costal Cartilage at Their Curved Exterior Surface Via a Tactile Sensor with a Built-In Probe for Distributed-Deflection Detection , Jiayue Shen

Thesis: A Scientific Approach to Understanding the Head Trauma Endured by a Mixed Martial Arts Fighter , John William Michael Sorbello

Thesis: Robocatch: Design and Making of a Hand-Held Spillage-Free Specimen Retrieval Robot for Laparoscopic Surgery , Farid Tavakkolmoghaddam

Thesis: Effects of Automated Fiber Placement on High Strain Rate Compressive Response of Advanced Composites , Alexander Trochez

Thesis: A Monolithic Internal Strain-Gage Balance Design Based on Design for Manufacturability , Thomas Ladson Webb III

Dissertation: A Stepwise Compression-Relaxation Testing Method for Tissue Characterization and Tumor Detection Via a Two-Dimensional Tactile Sensor , Yichao Yang

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Class of 2023: EDI Thesis Projects

Get an inside look at what each edi student created for their final thesis projects..

thesis design and engineering

Each year, students in Northwestern's Master of Science in Engineering Design Innovation (EDI) program take the lessons they've learned and apply them to a topic of their choosing for their Thesis project.     

Over the Fall and Winter quarters, students met weekly with Studio Leads Jim Wicks and Amy Schwartz. In the final ten weeks they also worked in small groups with industry mentors familiar with their projects and topics.    

Learn more about what each student from the Class of 2023 produced for their Thesis.  

Alexandra Andreiu - co  

co is a holistic digital platform that helps grieving mothers navigate the experience of pregnancy loss with curated resources, one-on-one peer support, and a community of other moms who've had pregnancy loss. co learns about a mother’s loss story and how she wants to be supported in order to curate an experience where accessibility and personalization do not have to be mutually exclusive.   

Autumn Basinger - Uplab    

The concept of waste is a human one. Nothing is inherently waste, but it becomes so once we cease to imagine and implement its use. Uplab is a digital community hub that aims to inspire and enable people to reuse and transform furniture so that new value and purpose is gained for what might have otherwise become waste. For those involved in furniture upcycling, or simply intrigued, Uplab provides a set of integrated tools that help people source, visually reimagine, and practically transform used furniture.  

Bryanna Benicia - ReMemo   

Family stories shape identity, preserve culture, and foster strong familial bonds across generations. However, these stories are often lost over time due to their fleeting nature and the loss of the people who hold them. ReMemo is an engaging tool that preserves family stories and memories by encouraging quality time together and documenting natural storytelling moments. With ReMemo, families can create memories that can be shared and revisited at any time, ensuring they are accessible for future generations to cherish.  

Megan Bruneau - Travel Smart  

Going on vacation should be fun and relaxing, but preparing for air travel can be overwhelming, especially for those with travel anxiety. Travel Smart is a collection of packing products that integrate with an app to create a stress-free travel experience for users. The Travel Smart bags and packing cubes help travelers pack wisely and stay organized throughout their trip, while the companion app aids in the overall process of preparing, packing, traveling, and returning home.    

Stacey Chen - Pretty Perfect  

Finding the perfect-fitting makeup is challenging. There is no excellent shortcut to in-person product matching due to the failure of current virtual tools and research methods to match highly personal needs. Pretty Perfect aims to facilitate faster and more accurate makeup research by referencing the experience of similar makeup users. The makeup research app allows shoppers to validate new-to-them products virtually by referencing user content generated by experienced users of the products who match their personal conditions, values, and aspirations.  

David Du - AI-DA   

AI-DA is an AI-powered application seeking to change that dynamic and foster senses of familiarity and trust through an augmented, optimized UX process. It provides a comprehensive feature set, ranging from content summary to visual contextualization, that addresses the needs of the design team at every stage of the UX process to efficiently produce the most helpful result and complementary output. By leveraging natural language processing and existing AI generation capabilities, AI-DA helps UX researchers and designers save valuable time and effort on repetitive, labor-intensive, non-scalable manual tasks, and to focus instead on more novel, value-added, complex activities that demand human judgment and compassion, thus contributing toward more effective user-centered innovation.  

Auston Ferrarer - Future Pathways  

The US education system has done little to help students grapple with the decision of what to do after high school, leaving many students beholden to their parents’, educators’, and/or community's expectations of what they should do after graduating. Future Pathways is focused on helping students interested in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) deal with this anxiety by providing them with a database of potential pathways tailored to their specific interests as explored within a hands-on design thinking workshop.  

David Jelke - Budder  

Budder is an app that strives to replicate the most interesting, entertaining, and meaningful conversations you have with your friends by basing the conversation on great content: books and podcasts. Get to know the perspectives of the most valuable people in your life— your friends. Discover common books and podcasts between your friends, persuade them to listen to what you're listening to, and keep the conversations going by connecting with friends of your friends.  

Albert Jin - Carnet  

Imagine that you are driving down I-90 and notice a pickup truck with a loose item in the car driving in front of you. How can you tell this to the driver safely? Inter-driver communication is challenging and can be easily miscomprehended. Ineffective communication can lead to distraction, road rage, and even potential accidents. In my thesis, I am eager to design a better way for drivers to communicate with each other on the road for a safer and harmonious driving experience.   

Youhua Lu - Nailed It  

Finding the first professional job is challenging, and it can be even more difficult for introverts. Shy and reserved students often have big ideas but may struggle to express themselves verbally. With Nailed It, introverted students can develop a professional mindset through daily practice and learn to confidently share their opinions on a range of topics, from casual to serious.    

Clark Mitchell - Sewcial Hour  

LGBTQIA+ adults face a number of hardships surrounding their identity throughout their lifetime. This can be exacerbated in the workplace and seep into their relationships, work, and personal wellbeing. Sewcial Hour is a program that enables LGBTQIA+ adults to feel comfortable in their workplace through feeling comfortable in their clothes. Each session helps individuals exchange and alter work apparel to suit them both in style and fit.    

Joaquin Moeller-Luzio - Task Hero  

Task Hero helps streamline communication and increase efficiency in your household by providing a centralized platform for assigning, tracking, and completing tasks. In addition, Task Hero offers a convenient way to view other people's schedules. By using Task Hero, families and individuals who struggle with organization can avoid confusion, missed deadlines, and missed pickups, while improving accountability and reducing stress.  

Liam Rolle - We Ready    

People who live in areas prone to extreme weather events experience natural disasters over three cyclical phases: preparedness, response, and recovery. Despite the importance of preparedness, it is often a journey that individuals must undertake alone and with insufficient knowledge. We Ready is a multi-channel platform that provides and guides homeowners through modifications to their homes based on a combination of trusted indigenous and scientific knowledge. By helping homeowners prepare for inevitable storms, We Ready promotes resilience against the impacts of extreme weather.   

Chloe H Saunders - Superpowers Kit   

Many parents of young children are beginning to discover that emotional intelligence (EI) is one of the strongest predictors of lifetime well being. Despite this, the EI support resources currently available to these busy families are often overwhelming, disconnected, and difficult to navigate. Superpowers is a monthly educational subscription kit that enables parents and children to build emotional intelligence skills together one step at a time through streamlined, expert information and engaging, age-specific activities.  

Annie Thomas - Paper Puppets  

Are you looking for a fun and creative way to engage your kids while teaching them valuable skills? Look no further than Paper Puppets, the all-encompassing stop-motion animation kit designed to guide children through the process of bringing stories to life. With easy-to-follow instructions and all the materials they need, your kids will love creating their own stop-motion masterpieces using Paper Puppets. Let their imaginations run wild and see their ideas come to life on the screen while setting them on a path toward a lifetime of artistic expression.  

Rita Wang - PetHood    

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it became increasingly challenging for adoption organizations to find pets a home, despite the growing need for pet companionship. PetHood is a digital animal adoption platform that connects pet lovers around neighborhoods, making it easier for pets to find stability in home environments and human companionship. The platform provides updated pet profiles, their living situations, and a community of pet lovers who share experiences and advice. PetHood aims to make pet adoption more accessible and convenient by offering a one-stop-shop for everything related to pet ownership near your location, creating a world where all animals have a loving home, equally benefiting pet seekers, adoption organizations, and sheltered animals.   


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Master's thesis – forms and guides

In the "Exjobb Handook" below, which serves as the Course Memo for all Tracks, you will find a thorough description of how to do a Masters thesis project at the Department of Engineering Design.

Handbook for Masters Thesis Projects at the Department of Engineering Design (2020-21) (pdf 423 kB)

Application form

Fill in the Master Thesis project application form / Anmälan till examensarbete (pdf 573 kB)

The layout of the cover page of KTH masters thesis has a standard format:

The Title page, an English Summary page, and a Swedish "Abstrakt" are mandatory in the report and they are also standardized.

Below is a Word-template for an MSc masters thesis at the department of Engineering Design. Please observe that the layout of the sections after the abstract/summary pages are not standardized, but the template has a preferred layout:

Masters thesis template (Word 2010) (docx 136 kB)

Your examiner decides when your thesis is final. The course leader records the thesis as approved on the original form used for the provisional registration, which is then returned to ExpNord for reporting in Ladok, and archiving on DiVA.

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  • Dissertation

Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation . One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer’s block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.

This article collects a list of undergraduate, master’s, and PhD theses and dissertations that have won prizes for their high-quality research.

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Table of contents

Award-winning undergraduate theses, award-winning master’s theses, award-winning ph.d. dissertations, other interesting articles.

University : University of Pennsylvania Faculty : History Author : Suchait Kahlon Award : 2021 Hilary Conroy Prize for Best Honors Thesis in World History Title : “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the “Noble Savage” on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807”

University : Columbia University Faculty : History Author : Julien Saint Reiman Award : 2018 Charles A. Beard Senior Thesis Prize Title : “A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947

University: University College London Faculty: Geography Author: Anna Knowles-Smith Award:  2017 Royal Geographical Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Title:  Refugees and theatre: an exploration of the basis of self-representation

University: University of Washington Faculty:  Computer Science & Engineering Author: Nick J. Martindell Award: 2014 Best Senior Thesis Award Title:  DCDN: Distributed content delivery for the modern web

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University:  University of Edinburgh Faculty:  Informatics Author:  Christopher Sipola Award:  2018 Social Responsibility & Sustainability Dissertation Prize Title:  Summarizing electricity usage with a neural network

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Education Author:  Matthew Brillinger Award:  2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Humanities Prize Title:  Educational Park Planning in Berkeley, California, 1965-1968

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty: Social Sciences Author:  Heather Martin Award:  2015 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  An Analysis of Sexual Assault Support Services for Women who have a Developmental Disability

University : University of Ottawa Faculty : Physics Author : Guillaume Thekkadath Award : 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Sciences Prize Title : Joint measurements of complementary properties of quantum systems

University:  London School of Economics Faculty: International Development Author: Lajos Kossuth Award:  2016 Winner of the Prize for Best Overall Performance Title:  Shiny Happy People: A study of the effects income relative to a reference group exerts on life satisfaction

University : Stanford University Faculty : English Author : Nathan Wainstein Award : 2021 Alden Prize Title : “Unformed Art: Bad Writing in the Modernist Novel”

University : University of Massachusetts at Amherst Faculty : Molecular and Cellular Biology Author : Nils Pilotte Award : 2021 Byron Prize for Best Ph.D. Dissertation Title : “Improved Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Helminths”

University:  Utrecht University Faculty:  Linguistics Author:  Hans Rutger Bosker Award: 2014 AVT/Anéla Dissertation Prize Title:  The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech

University: California Institute of Technology Faculty: Physics Author: Michael P. Mendenhall Award: 2015 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics Title: Measurement of the neutron beta decay asymmetry using ultracold neutrons

University:  Stanford University Faculty: Management Science and Engineering Author:  Shayan O. Gharan Award:  Doctoral Dissertation Award 2013 Title:   New Rounding Techniques for the Design and Analysis of Approximation Algorithms

University: University of Minnesota Faculty: Chemical Engineering Author: Eric A. Vandre Award:  2014 Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics Title: Onset of Dynamics Wetting Failure: The Mechanics of High-speed Fluid Displacement

University: Erasmus University Rotterdam Faculty: Marketing Author: Ezgi Akpinar Award: McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award 2014 Title: Consumer Information Sharing: Understanding Psychological Drivers of Social Transmission

University: University of Washington Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering Author: Keith N. Snavely Award:  2009 Doctoral Dissertation Award Title: Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Internet Photo Collections

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Social Work Author:  Susannah Taylor Award: 2018 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  Effacing and Obscuring Autonomy: the Effects of Structural Violence on the Transition to Adulthood of Street Involved Youth

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Carnegie Mellon University

Controlling Properties of Particle-Laden Interfaces Through Interfacial Processing and Design Towards Emulsion Stability

 Strongly absorbed particles significantly impact the mechanical properties of fluid-fluid interfaces, and the interfacial properties of these systems are associated with the formation of highly stable emulsions and foams. Interfacial properties are directly affected by the properties of the aqueous fluid, as well as particle properties which include surface chemistries and aggregation states. The nature of the hydrophobic fluid (most often air or oil) also has a significant impact on the behavior of particles at the interface which is far less understood. To better engineer emulsion systems with desired stability, we need to develop tools necessary to systematically quantify the effects of the hydrophobic fluid on the interfacial mechanics associated with stability at particle-laden interfaces. 

This work uses in-situ techniques that allow for the efficient, detailed characterization of bulk and interfacial properties essential for controlling emulsion stability. A millifluidic technique is shown to be a powerful approach for bulk stability studies in opaque colloidal dispersions and is used here to characterize the long-time solvency effects on asphaltene precipitation. The degree of aggregation and overall stability of asphaltene dispersions is highly dependent on molecular characteristics, bulk concentration, and solvent composition. The complex interfacial behavior of asphaltenes, connected to the development of highly stable water-in-oil emulsions, are defined by these bulk system conditions. 

Controlled experiments using a microtensiometer platform are used to characterize the mechanical properties of particle-laden oil/water interfaces and assess the role of the hydrophobic fluid on particle jamming. This work shows how changing the hydrophobic phase leads to additional complexities in the characterization of the interfacial properties. Additionally, we identify system parameters that can be used to control particle coverage and interactions at the oil/water interface. 

These interfacial studies further the understanding of methods to control adsorption of complex species to oil/water interfaces. The results from this work highlight the significance of the hydrophobic fluid on interfacial behavior at particle-coated interfaces and outline key design considerations for processing and designing interfaces for use in particle-stabilized emulsions. In identifying tools to control and characterize complex interfaces and showing the importance of interfacial processing on interfacial behavior, this work provides important design rules for the engineering of particulate-based interfacial systems. 

Degree Type

  • Dissertation
  • Chemical Engineering

Degree Name

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Usage metrics

  • Chemical Engineering not elsewhere classified

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