Within the past few years, there has been a steady, substantial growth of interest in “long-term” archiving of digital data. This problem is particularly acute in many branches of engineering design, where cycles of technological obsolescence in supporting tools happen much more rapidly than those of designed products. Capturing and preserving design knowledge through these cycles is a major challenge that has come to be recognized by many government, industry, and research organizations. The ability to do so has important operational, efficiency, and legal ramifications for the manufacturing industry and its customers. This paper describes this problem, presenting examples of both why it must be addressed and why it is a challenge. In particular it relates preservation of engineering data to digital archiving efforts in other domains as well as ongoing work within the engineering research community on design repositories. As is shown, long term archiving of digital design knowledge draws upon both but possesses its own unique issues. Much of this discussion is couched within the language of the ISO Open Archival Information Systems (OAIS) Reference Model, including a mapping from an existing significant design repository into the OAIS model. In this way, it is hoped that this paper will widen the discussion on digital archiving within the community of this conference as well as help connect to research in other areas.

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