The use of multiobjective optimization in identifying systems that account for changes in customer needs, operating environments, system design concepts, and analysis models over time is generally not explored. Providing solutions that anticipate, account for, and allow for these changes over time is a significant challenge to manufacturers and design engineers. Products that adapt to these changes through the addition and/or subtraction of modules can reduce production costs through product commonality, and cater to customization and adaptation. In terms of identifying sets of non-dominated designs, these changes result in the concept of dynamic Pareto frontiers, or dynamic s-Pareto frontiers when sets of system concepts are simultaneously evaluated over time. In this dissertation, a five-step optimization-based design method identifying a set of optimal adaptive product designs that satisfy the predicted changes by moving from one location on the dynamic s-Pareto frontier to another through the addition of a module and/or through reconfiguration is developed. Development of this five-step method was separated into four phases. The first two phases of developments respectively focus on Pareto and s-Pareto cases, where changes in concepts, models, and environments that would effect the Pareto/s-Pareto frontier are ignored due to limitations in traditional optimization problem formulations. To overcome these limitations, and allow for these changes, the third phase of developments presents a generic optimization formulation capable of identifying a dynamic s-Pareto frontier, while the fourth phase adapts the phase three method to incorporate this new dynamic optimization formulation. Example implementations of the four phases of developments were respectively provided through the design of a modular UAV, a hurricane and flood resistant modular residential structure, a simple aircraft design example inspired by the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, and a modular truss system. Noting that modular products only represent one approach for dealing with changes in preferences, environments, models, and concepts, the final research contribution connects the presented method with parallel research developments in collaborative product design and design principles identification, followed by two case study implementations of this unifying design approach in the development of a modular irrigation pump and a modular plywood cart for developing countries.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





dynamic s-Pareto frontiers, multiobjective optimizaiton, modular systems design, Pareto traversing