Product development requires that engineers have the ability to predict product performance. When product performance involves complex physics and natural phenomena, mathematical models are often insufficient to provide accurate predictions. Engineering companies compensate for this deficiency by testing prototypes to obtain empirical data that can be used in place of predictive models. The purpose of this work is to provide techniques and methods for efficient use of empirical methods in product development processes. Empirical methods involve the design and creation of prototype hardware and the testing of that hardware in controlled environments. Empirical methods represent a complete product development sub-cycle within the overall product development process. Empirical product development cycles can be expensive in both time and resources. Global economic pressures have caused companies to focus on improving the productivity of their product development cycles. A variety of techniques for improving the productivity of product development processes have been developed. These methods focus on structuring process steps and product artifacts for reuse and efficiency. However these methods have, to this point, largely ignored the product development sub-cycle of empirical design. The same techniques used on the overall product development processes can and should be applied to the empirical product development sub-cycle. This thesis focuses on applying methods of efficient and reusable product development processes on the empirical development sub-cycle. It also identifies how to efficiently link the empirical product development sub-cycle into the overall product development process. Specifically, empirical product development sub-cycles can be characterized by their purposes into three specific types: first, obtaining data for predictive model coefficients, boundary conditions and driving functions; second, validating an existing predictive model; and third, to provide the basis for predictions using interpolation and extrapolation of the empirical data when a predictive model does not exist. These three types of sub-cycles are structured as reusable processes in a standard form that can be used generally in product development. The roles of these three types of sub-cycles in the overall product development process are also established and the linkages defined. Finally, the techniques and methods provided for improving the efficiency of empirical methods in product development processes are demonstrated in a form that shows their benefits.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





product design, design, PDG, testing, test, tests, empirical, modeling