Prof. Tony Medland gave a talk on “The use of modelling & simulation in the support of design decisions”. He pointed out that the conventional sequence of design activities was an ill-structured solution to a normally complex engineering problem involving many variables, often including modelling the man-machine interface.
A problem solving structure was required which would pursue a course of action from the current state towards an objective state whilst respecting practical engineering & ergonomic constraints. This required a constraint resolving structure which probably needed to start from an initial guess at an input solution to a parametric system model, which could then be evaluated and iteratively searched using freed variables until a “true” solution was arrived at. Several interesting case studies were presented which illustrated direct search techniques. These ranged from design of machines to make chocolate boxes, to bicycles, to wheelchairs for people having specific disabilities. The talk culminated in his showing a video of a remote design of a wheelchair in use by a disabled New Zealand resident, whom he had never seen in person – an impressive demonstration!