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ISR-affiliated Professor Peter Sandborn (ME) has received a National Science Foundation collaborative research grant for Knowledge Representation and Design for Managing Product Obsolescence. The two-year, $105K grant will investigate two novel research approaches to understanding and managing technology obsolescence challenges.

Sandborn will build a knowledge representation scheme and management system that can facilitate information sharing and collaboration for obsolescence management and mitigation efforts between existing tools and across different organizations. He also will develop fundamental principles, teachable methods, and guidelines for designing product architectures that can evolve with changing requirements, enabling proactive obsolescence management across the entire product life cycle.

Fast moving technologies have caused commercial high-tech components to have shortened procurement life cycles, rendering them obsolete quickly. The impact and pervasiveness of obsolescence problems are growing. Existing work focuses on reactively managing obsolescence, i.e., minimizing the cost of resolving the problem after it has occurred, however, reactive management is very expensive and inefficient. Proactive and strategic obsolescence management have many potential advantages, but are poorly understood in theory, and poorly addressed in practice.

Deliverables include a standard obsolescence ontology within a software system that domain experts can use to share and annotate information in their fields, and demonstration and validation of fundamental principles on a wide range of product design problems.

The results of this research will overcome limitations in existing design methods that do not adequately consider obsolescence issues. This research will provide a platform for the exploration and understanding of interactions among the elements of product design and sensitivities to obsolescence. Designers will have the tools they need to manage the issue of obsolescence and design products to enable proactive obsolescence management. The research will provide an opportunity to create cost-effective, and environmental friendly products at faster pace.

July 2, 2009

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