Decision theory for design economics

Deborah L. Thurston, Angela Locascio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The traditional engineering design process ends too abruptly when economic or “nontechnic”factors must be considered. Leaving decisions about tradeoffs between cost and quality to marketing, accounting and management personnel has resulted in products that do not compete well in the usaional marketplace. Marketing personnel can determine customer preferences, but are poorly equipped to translate those preferences into product and manufacturing process specifications. Within a manufacturing company, engineers are the ones who possess the analytic capabilities required for true concurrent design decision making. This paper reviews our work on integrating decision analysis into the design process. We describe a method which will help engineers broaden the realm of their analysis to treat economic factors with the same respect they traditionally accord only to “technical” factors. Our approach is to integrate formal, mathematically rigorous methods for multiattribute utility decision-making witb conventional design analysis. We present a two-phased approach for preliminary design evaluation followed by fine-tuning for design optimization. An example of turnbuckle material selection and design illustrates the methodology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-71
Number of pages31
JournalEngineering Economist
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • Economics and Econometrics


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