This paper presents a method for assessing the quality of progressive design processes that seek to maximize the profitability of the product that is being designed. The proposed approach uses separations, a type of problem decomposition, to model progressive design processes. The subproblems in the separations correspond roughly to phases in the progressive design processes. We simulate the choices of a bounded rational designer for each subproblem using different search algorithms. We consider different types and versions of these search processes in order to determine if the results are robust to the decision-making model. We use a simple two-variable problem to help describe the approach and then apply the approach to assess motor design processes. Methods for assessing the quality of engineering design processes can be used to guide improvements to engineering design processes and generate more valuable products.

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