Decision Making in Engineering Design
2 The Open Workshop on Decision-Based Design
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During the late 1990s, members of the engineering design research community articulated a growing recognition that decisions are a fundamental construct in engineering design. This position and its premise that the study of how engineering designers should make choices during the design represented the foundation of an emerging perspective on design theory called decision-based design (DBD). DBD provides a framework  within which the design research community could conceive, articulate, verify and promote theories of design beyond the traditional problem-solving view. As we define here:
Decision-based design (DBD) is an approach to engineering design that recognizes the substantial role that decisions play in design and in other engineering activities, largely characterized by ambiguity, uncertainty, risk, and trade-offs. Through the rigorous application of mathematical principles, DBD seeks to improve the degree to which these activities are performed and taught as rational, that is, self-consistent processes.
The Open Workshop on Decision-Based Design (DBD) was founded in late 1996. The open workshop engaged design theory researchers via electronic and Internet-related technologies as well as face-to-face meetings in scholarly and collegial dialogue to establish a rigorous and common foundation for DBD. Financial support for the Open Workshop on DBD was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) from the workshop's inception through November 2005. The goal of the DBD workshop has been to create a learning community focused on defining design from a DBD perspective and investigating the proper role that decisions and decision-making play in engineering design.
Over the years the investment made by our colleagues and the NSF has contributed to the development of a body of scholarly research on DBD. This research and the community built around it are the result of investing, adopting and adapting, where necessary, principles for decision-making from disciplines outside of engineering. This synergy has led to numerous conference papers and journal publications, special editions of journals dedicated to DBD  and successful research workshops. Both the Design Automation Conference and the Design Theory Methodology Conference at the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conferences have established technical sessions on DBD for the past few years on various issues within DBD. The role of the Open Workshop on DBD has been that of a catalyst for this growth in scholarly investigation, presentation and debate of ideas.