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InDeaTe: A tool for training engineers in designing sustainable systems

Prof Amaresh Chakrabarti | Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India

InDeaTe: A tool for training engineers in designing sustainable systems

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The conflicts between dwindling resources and increasing population and consumerism has made the challenges of sustainability prominent than ever. However, while engineers are increasingly aware of sustainability, and while a large number of methods and tools exist to support them in tackling specific issues in developing designs with greater sustainability, few methodologies exist that provide the overall framework in which to guide the engineer in the overall development process with a lifecycle design perspective, while providing access to appropriate definitions and indicators of sustainability to set the goals of the process, as well as providing access to appropriate methods and tools to apply in achieving these goals.
InDeaTe (Innovation Design Database and Template), introduced in this talk, is a computer based platform with a template for the overall, lifecycle design process, and a database of sustainability definitions and indicators, as well as design methods and tools, for guiding the designer through the process while applying appropriate knowledge from the database for solving the given problem. This talk will discuss the background empirical studies of design processes that led to understanding the issues of designing sustainable systems that acted as precursors to the development of the tool, and will introduce the tool.
Further, results from a semi-controlled experiments where design teams solved problems of redesigning products, services and manufacturing systems with and without using InDeaTe, will be discussed as tests of the efficacy of InDeaTe in supporting and improving design for sustainability. Finally, a series of case studies will be discussed that were undertaken in India and the USA to evaluate the usability and usefulness of the tool in a variety of design problems, such as redesigning manufacturing systems for water coolers in New Delhi, Innovation Workshops for training grass-root innovators in Gujarat, small turbines for generating electricity in the hills of Karnataka, making composites in Washington, green-roofs in Syracuse, or smart factories in Berkeley.