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How Do Engineers Translate and Teams Synthesize?

My team and I have been awarded $432,009 from the National Science Foundation, for a project called “Reduce Energy Consumption Through Integrated Design: How Do Engineers Translate and Teams Synthesize?” and I’ll be serving as Co-PI.The objective of this research project is to help scientists and practitioners understand how teams of engineers, architects and builders can design buildings that have better energy performance and are more habitable. Using a healthcare project as a test case, this research seeks to explain under what conditions engineers best translate technical analysis of potential energy performance to support decision making that leads to higher performance buildings. The research combines observation of design analytics and decision-making in one healthcare project, interviews with 50 experts, and assessment of 50 completed projects. Working with industry partners, via workshops, this project will disseminate best practices found in the research. The project will also develop curriculum to foster underrepresented participation through problem based collaborative learning and train US engineering students in translation and synthesis so that they may become better industry leaders who are able to collaborate across engineering disciplines.

This research will advance our understanding of collaboration, especially in the new interdisciplinary and iterative design processes that use energy modeling software. This project will advance knowledge of human-software-organizational interaction and contribute to the fields of architecture, engineering design and management, communication, and organizational behavior. Healthcare infrastructure such as hospitals and clinics consumes more than 5 percent of the total energy used in the US. Energy conserving buildings require integrated design, whereas today analysis is done separately by different engineering specialties. By better use of analytical modeling and organizational innovation, this project seeks to improve the building process and maximize the ecological efficiency of buildings.


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