Nature began designing systems long before our time. You’re likely already a natural at design and you might not be aware of it. Let’s take a quick class survey on associating information flows (see link to Google Form in Slack 316 private group).

How we store, share, and process information has a huge effect on the designs we produce. In 1968 Mel Conway published a paper titled, “How Committees Invent.” This document is generally considered the origin of what is now called Conway’s Law:

Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations. ~Mel Conway 1968

Dr. Chuck introduced me to Conway’s law 3 years ago when we started co-mentoring student teams. Chuck added an intermediary corollary to Conway’s law:

Communication/Information Flow/Structure –> Knowledge Structure –> Design product

This obviously points out differences in products between leading software companies (as Conway originally intended) such as Microsoft and Google. But this also has much more basic manifestations in the physical world. Take for example something as simple as a tree and what it can teach us about universities. Your book has several other examples of system structures we see in nature in Figure 3.4:

System DiagramsWe’re using Slack as a communication tool in this class because, like the internet itself (see figure 3.2 from text below), Slack is layered to seamlessly allow chatting between individuals, posting to groups, and integrations with many other useful programs. As long as the internet remains structured in this way, Slack could very easily be an optimal communication system.

Structure of the Internet

With specific context to our Jigsaw approach to teams in this class, Slack allows us to quickly switch conversations between the layers of our sub-assembly teams and our team member role groups.

Let’s go ahead and sort ourselves into the teams recommended by CATME from the surveys you completed. You should have received an e-mail about this. Go ahead and get acquainted with your new team members.

The modern engineering design process more or less follows these steps:

  1. Introduction/motivation/problem definition/needs
  2. Background/prior art/literature review/current status
  3. Design specification/proposal
  4. Theory/work/prototyping/experiment
  5. Results/conclusions/future work

This process is not necessarily linear!

We’re currently in phase 1 and looking ahead to phase 2 next week. Before your client interviews on Friday, you and your teammates need to complete two documents that will help you develop questions for your clients and immediately associate these with potential sources of additional information that you will be presented with during the library instruction session on Monday:

  1. Stakeholder Interview Plan – To be completed as a team and uploaded to your team’s sub-assembly Slack thread before class on Friday (27th).
  2. Design Information Audit – To be completed as a team during class on Monday and uploaded to your team’s sub-assembly Slack thread before class on Wednesday (28th).