Inside ISD News

Design Science PhD Candidate Alex Burnap Successfully Defends Thesis

Design Science PhD Candidate Ready to Defend Thesis

Design Science PhD candidate Alex Burnap successfully defended his thesis on April 21 in front of friends, family, and a panel of judges at the Lurie Engineering Center. His dissertation advisors are Dr. Panos Papalambros, ISD Chair and James B. Angell Distinguished University Professor of Engineering, and Dr. Richard Gonzalez, ISD Professor and Professor of Psychology, Statistics and Marketing in LSA and the Ross School of Business.


Entitled Crowdsourcing for Engineering Design: Subjective Preferences and Objective Evaluations, Alex's dissertation focuses on the methods of crowdsourced evaluation for design processes in order to better understand end-user preferences. An excerpt of his abstract summarizes the thesis nicely: 

"Crowdsourcing as a concept is not new. What is new is the reach and scale provided to us by the internet and modern computational processing. As designers, this enables us to reach out to thousands of people who may not have been previously considered, listen to their input by aggregating their preferences and evaluations over our concept designs, and potentially improve "good" and catch "bad" design decisions during the early-stage design process. Our approach puts human designers at the forefront–be they industrial designers, engineers, marketers, or executive strategists–with computational crowdsourcing systems on the backend that aggregate subjective preferences (e.g., which of these next generation Cadillacs best competes in styling with next generation BMWs?) or objective evaluations (e.g., which of these military vehicle designs has the best situational awareness?)."

To learn more about his work, watch Alex discuss the fundamentals of his research with ISD chair Panos Papalambros in this 5-minute video.