This research defines the basis for a new quantitative approach for retrieving useful analogies for innovation based on the relevant performance characteristics of critical functions. Analogy matching is made possible by the novel incorporation of Non Uniform Rational B-spline (NURBs) based metamodels enabling the efficient representation of critical function performance. The concept of critical functionality is central to this research effort. Metamodels of the performance of critical functions, obtained from simulations, engineering models (such as bond graphs) and/or experimental data collections, will be organized into a searchable repository of innovative analogies. This approach will enable multiple analogies to be presented to the designer with a quantified match metric related to the desired performance benefit to the design. The impact of this approach for inspiring novel designs will be measured through controlled experiments measuring the impact of the analogies on the innovation of design. The ultimate research goal will be verified using MetaAnalogy via Performance Specification (MAPS) technique at both the conceptual design phase and throughout the design process. Engineering innovation is critical to meet a vast array of challenges including the grand engineering challenges of the 21st century in the form of energy and environmental solutions.

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