The use of computers during the design process continues to grow, calling for a better understanding of how experts make use of computer tools to automate and augment their design efforts. In this study, we examine how architects and engineers consider the use of computers and computation in planning a solution to a sample design problem. We find the design automation design process can be modeled with four phases; discovery, evaluation, extrapolation and interpolation. Unlike many design methods, we find the evaluation phase generally preceded the extrapolation phase. In addition, we identify common computational strategies and challenges faced by practitioners. Understanding this information can help advise and provide directions for designers across levels of expertise, to better integrate computers and computation in existing design work, and to direct further efforts in design automation research.

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