Development of an expert system to aid in the selection of sustainability design engineering methods

Pedro Renato Acosta Herrera, University of Texas at El Paso


The objective of this thesis is to present the development of an expert system to aid designers in the selection of design methods, in particular for sustainability methods. When practicing engineers need help in their design process, they look for design methods and tools; this is a challenge especially for inexperienced engineers in the sustainability area. Engineers, due to time constrains, will only utilize one or few methods during their professional life. The origin of this situation can be traced to engineering education, where it is typical that an instructor prefers one or few methods in particular, and even when he or she attempts to teach other methods, students may get confused since it is different to learn a method than learning how to select from a set. This thesis work presents a concept for an expert system that has been developed from the characterization of key elements found in the design for environment (DfE) methodologies such as principles, guidelines, and tools. Each element brings a vast set of variables that are not most of the times well defined. An approach is taken by synthesizing a conceptual and logical model to represent the fundamental characteristics of a sustainable method selection tool. The result is a sustainable expert system (SES) that provides the functionality of recommending DfE methodologies according to an input defined through a set of questions given on a sequence. Moreover, the SES accepts the input from the designer as a series of simple questions such as: what is the design stage, the solution characteristics, among others, and it maps through a database (while following a pre-defined logic) to find matching DfE methodologies. It is foreseen that this SES will be used primarily by engineering student focusing in the design subject and secondly by practicing design engineers. The SES will also reveal cases for which methods do not seem to exist; these can be identified as areas of research opportunity.

Subject Area

Design|Sustainability|Artificial intelligence|Computer science

Recommended Citation

Acosta Herrera, Pedro Renato, "Development of an expert system to aid in the selection of sustainability design engineering methods" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1494322.