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Methods, tools and applications for Biologically Inspired Design Francesco Rosa, Gaetano Cascini Notwithstanding their potentials, biological systems are still marginally used as references for triggering the generation of inventive solutions. Methods and tools to ease knowledge transfer form biological to engineering filed, as well as practical applications of the Biologically Inspired Design process are research issues on which you can develop your thesis.

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A benchmark analysis of methods and tools to identify and model engineering requirements Gaetano Cascini, Niccolò Becattini ndependently from the specific solution to be designed, being it a product, a process or a service, their development processes more and more require an appropriate definition of requirements. Their definition, indeed, allows both a more correct management of the design cycle and the identification of novel opportunities to diversify a design proposal from existing ones. The thesis consists in comparing several techniques to elicit requirements and to organize them in appropriate categories facilitating their management along the product development process (or other development processes). The work aims at highlighting strengths and weaknesses of the existing methods and tools to deal with engineering requirements, so as to point out what is needed to make these approaches more effective and efficient in R&D activities. Methods and tools will be applied on real industrial case studies.
Forecasting analysis: development of an innovative approach to map the relationships among technology and market drivers/barriers Gaetano Cascini, Niccolò Becattini Drivers (what pushes the development of innovative solutions) and barriers (e.g. obstacles as technological limits, laws and regulations, social and environmental conditions) lead to the emergence of new demands to be addressed by constantly updated (also) technical solutions. Thus, the anticipation of needs and technical requirements is one of the key to define development strategies that are effective to face the challenges of a rapidly changing market. The thesis aims at defining an approach that allows the representation (modelling) of drivers and barriers (related to both market and technology) in a specific industrial domain. Moreover, the approach should also be capable of pointing out their mutual relationships, as well as the ones they have with constraints and industrial requirements. This work consists in the development of criteria for the prioritization of knowledge elements that are crucial to develop solutions capable of answering future demands.
Metrics for the assessment of surprise emergence during the evaluation of design solutions (from idea to products) and analysis of correlates with novelty and usefulness. Gaetano Cascini, Niccolò Becattini During the first interaction with a product, the emergence of surprise might emphasize the appraisal or the dislike of a specific product (or, more in general, design solution). The thesis consists in developing appropriate criteria to quantify surprise once it emerges when an evaluator (a novice or an expert user) deals with a finite product or simple design proposals. This work will involve people working in creative industries (for instance: advertising, gaming,..), as well as in more engineering oriented domains. These people will apply the metrics to assess the surprise generated by both existing products and ideas generated along creative design sessions. The results of this analysis will also enable the identification of potential correlates of surprise with the novelty and the usefulness of the evaluated solutions.
Development of a set of creative stimuli to support ideation Gaetano Cascini, Niccolò Becattini Generating creative ideas is a critical factor in very different design contexts, from the industrial ones to those mostly related to the production of intangible goods. Appropriate stimuli can facilitate the ideation of breakthrough solutions, making this design phase more effective and efficient. The thesis consists of identifying appropriate sources and databases to extract creative stimuli from. Such stimuli should be defined so that they will be different in nature (text, graphics, sounds, textures to be touched, a mix of them,…) and in content (e.g.: technology-, biology-, X-related stimuli). Different set of creative stimuli will be thus tested in creative sessions with designers from R&D departments or creative industries, in order to evaluate their effectiveness and efficiency.
A computerized metric to speed up design protocol analysis Gaetano Cascini, Niccolò Becattini The analysis of design protocols, i.e the (cognitive) activities carried out during the ideation and the development phases of a design cycle, is critical to the design research field. Indeed, these analyses also allow the identification of more efficient strategies to be embedded into design methods and tools. The activity consists in the development of a computer-based application that boosts up the analysis of design protocols, thus improving the current practice that is highly demanding in terms of human efforts and time. The thesis embraces a wider context, in which more specific objectives can be defined (e.g.: definition and/or improvement of existing coding schemes for design protocol analysis, definition of rules to shift the protocol interpretation towards automation, development of automatic approaches to distinguish elementary design moves,…).
Application of methods and tools for Systematic Innovation to industrial case studies Gaetano Cascini Thanks to the tight collaboration with companies from different technical fields, innovation problems and tasks proposed by them (e.g. those collected by the Center of Competence for Systematic Innovation, www.innovazionesistematica.it) are regularly updated. The thesis consists in the application of the creative methods and techniques learned during the MS programme.
Ideation and development of wearable actuators Gaetano Cascini A large number of application fields nowadays demands the introduction of wearable actuators, such as: motion support for elderly people, rehabilitation, training, safety, sport and gaming. The thesis consists in the ideation of specific solutions for one of the above sectors, the design and construction of a functional prototype and the experimental assessment of its performance. Among the others, a particular attentions is given to solutions based on Shape Memory Alloys (SMA), due to the availability of dedicated competences and equipment in the team laboratory.
Engineering for sustainability: design and testing of multisensory feedback solutions for changing humans’ behaviour Francesco Ferrise, Serena Graziosi (Politecnico di Milano) + Alberto Gallace (Milano Bicocca) The objective of the Master Thesis activity will be the design and testing of multisensory feedback solutions so as to improve the way humans interact and use products and thus, consume energy. The main purpose behind the thesis is to find new ways to make humans behave in a more sustainable way. The students will learn how to use physical and virtual prototyping tools (e.g. ARDUINO UNO, UNITY…) as well as how to conduct experimental tests with the direct involvement of the final users. The research activity is strongly multidisciplinary and will be carried out in collaboration with the Department of Psychology of the Università Milano Bicocca.
Engineering for sports: design and testing of multisensory technical solutions for improving indoor/outdoor fitness experience Francesco Ferrise, Serena Graziosi (Politecnico di Milano) + Alberto Gallace (Milano Bicocca) The objective of the Master Thesis will be the design and testing of multisensory technical solutions, for example wearable devices, to be used as virtual coaches or simulators during humans’ fitness or playing activities. The final users of such solutions could be professionals, sport-lovers and children. The students will learn how to use physical and virtual prototyping tools (e.g. ARDUINO UNO, UNITY…) as well as how to conduct experimental tests with the direct involvement of the final users. The research activity is strongly multidisciplinary and will be carried out in collaboration with the Department of Psychology of the Università Milano Bicocca.