Spotlight on Dr. David Gerber: Building a Storied Career Around Easing Design Complexity

By Akio
Paradigms in Computing

“Paradigms in Computing: Making, Machines, and Models for Design Agency in Architecture”
by David Jason Gerber and Mariana Ibanez

Today Dr. David Gerber serves as assistant professor of Architecture and Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Southern California, but the title he claims is far simpler than his multi-disciplinary research aims.

The son of an engineer and a computer scientist, Gerber has called many countries (and at one point, a sailboat) home, and his work today reflects that blend of technological interests and global perspectives. A design architect by training, Gerber has worked for some of the world’s most innovative architecture and technology firms, including Gehry Technologies and Zaha Hadid Architects.

Since then he has served as professor, lecturer, author, and founder of several technology startups, but his work revolves around one theme: the intersection of architecture, design with computation, and technology.

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Finding A Better Way

It was during his time with Zaha Hadid Architects more than 14 years ago that Gerber says he discovered the lesson that would set his career trajectory.

That path, as he describes it, has been “to develop parametric skillsets, technologies, and knowledge to better equip designers to handle real-world complexity, while maintaining the highest level of quality in design possible.”

Gerber had won the title of project architect and manager for a massive new project: the One North master plan in Singapore. The design called for a 30-year master plan for a city of 200,000 people, with 5 million square meters of gross floor area over 200 hectares of land.

At that time, parametric design wasn’t a term ever heard in architecture, but the connection of information it allows was greatly needed by such a complex project.

“There weren’t any tools for me to appropriately manage my responsibilities, which was to link the data to my geometry while my geometry was changing on an hourly basis,” Gerber recalls. “And the data sets were enormous.”

Ultimately, Gerber developed a program that linked this information. However, he left the project thinking, “There has got to be a better way to enable good design, while not losing the bidirectional impact from geometry to data, and data to geometry.”

Exploring Parametrics

The Singapore master plan was a project with a painful lesson, learned under a tight schedule and cost constraints, among other challenges. Yet Gerber knew the tool he had commissioned while working on the project—what he calls the first parametric urbanism tool—was a first step toward smarter design.

 From Zaha Hadid Architects, Gerber went on to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design to pursue his doctorate. It was in a class taught by his advisor that Gerber discovered CATIA®.

It was among the first classes in which architects were instructed on CATIA, and it was eye-opening for Gerber to realize that there already existed technologies in engineering disciplines that he and his colleagues had tried to duplicate in the architectural setting.

“This became the 4-year trajectory of my PhD studies, in which I wrote one of the first PhDs in architecture on parametric design,” Gerber says.

His early experience in CATIA, through classes and work at MIT’s Media Lab where he was appointed as a research fellow, became an asset that helped Gerber earn an internship at Gehry Technologies, where he was able to further develop this knowledge for architecture.

Since then, through lectures, teaching and publications, Gerber has set out to help others realize the “better way” of delivering highly complex projects.

Removing Uncertainty

Gerber believes that parametric design tools and the shift to 3D design have become so valuable to designers because they help address the problem of uncertainty that is characteristic of design.

“As designers, we have a huge amount of responsibility because our visions carry with them 100- to 200-year lifespans and life cycle costs,” Gerber says.

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100-to 200-year lifespans and life cycle costs”

Given this duration, he sees design as inherent with enormous uncertainty. As a result, Gerber says, “It’s our duty to enhance the design process, and therefore the design product, with more and more intelligence.”

Parametric and generative design systems are one key for linking otherwise fragmented expertise in the AEC industry and applying it to accurately achieve the complex aims of today’s projects.

Parametric design mode, image courtesy of David Gerber

Image courtesy of David Gerber

Of course, there is room for more innovation in this new approach toward integrating project expertise. Gerber describes his world today as being about solving the problems that lie at the intersection of architecture, engineering and construction through an emphasis on the humanistic expression of design and integrating the innovations in the computer science field.

“My ultimate aim is to provide higher fidelity information, and capture higher fidelity knowledge to better equip the architect and designer,” Gerber says.

3DEXPERIENCE Forum 2014

David Gerber is a featured speaker along with Becher Neme and Kerenza Harris at the upcoming 3DEXPERIENCE Forum in Las Vegas, November 11-12, 2014.

Dr. Gerber will present the evolution of CATIA-based teaching, consulting, and research through the lens of 12 years of experience. The talk will highlight the importance of bottom-up and top-down educational and research strategies, and will link to the needs of AEC industry challenges.


Related Resources

Learn more about David Gerber’s work

Learn more about Façade Design for Fabrication

Register for the 3DEXPERIENCE Forum Las Vegas, November 11-12, 2014

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How to Take Charge of Your Mechatronic Product Development: The Smart Products Case study

By Estelle


Remote Home Control

The move to producing smart products has been gaining traction in the last few years. Consumers want more out of the products they buy: more flexibility and adaptability, connected and even more portability and mobility. On top of the electrical, mechanical and electronics components that you would find in traditional products, smart products are run by software that also gives rise to more innovation and features that were not possible before.

If the consumer market is opting for a refrigerator that sends you a SMS of the things you need to buy at the grocery or a car that drives itself, then how are manufacturers affected by it?

Businesses making smart products know that these stuffs are also more complex to design and create than their more traditional counterparts.  What this means is that you would need the services of more experts and more professionals in order to bring your products to market.  You also need to synchronize the varied design lifecycles involved in the manufacturing process.


Mechatronic Product Development

Other challenges include a longer time to market, quality issues, redesign and rework, more costs when it comes to product development, and problems with software development.   All of these carry a negative impact on the businesses, especially your profitability.  If you are behind schedule and fail to deliver your smart product on time, then it might mean lower sales and lower profits for you.

Fridge And here’s the thing, complexity will only continue to increase. Not only are consumers opting for smart products, they need something new or something better over time.   In the future, they will no longer want a refrigerator that just lists down its content and tells you what to buy, they will want one that does that AND suggest dishes that you could cook with all the ingredients you have in the refrigerator.

So your manufacturing processes would constantly become even more complex.

 

The good news is that you can take charge of your mechatronic product development by using better processes and using technology to provide integration, traceability and visibility platforms.

How do you do this? Here are some steps.

  1.  Set the goal and make sure that everybody is aware of what these goals are so that they all work towards it. To be effective in setting goals, you should consider what are needed to achieve that goal.  To illustrate, imagine that you are working on a new smartphone, do you know what your customers are expecting it to have and offer?  In this case your goal would be to create a smartphone that is useful to your customers without cramming in too many features that your customers would not use.
    Now here’s the challenge: product requirements from different domains often have different systems and formats and this leads to fragmented information.  This in turn leads to overlooked requirements or over designed products.
    What you need is a way to consolidate your requirements that are drilled down to actionable details.  These requirements need to be version-controlled so that it could go through the entire product life-cycle, become guidelines for your product’s design and used for product validation.  You can also save time if you can keep this centralized document visible so that you could also update it in the future.
  2. Working with your requirements, you need to come up with a conceptual design. Getting the conceptual design right would help you avoid expensive reworks and redesigns when you find a major flaw along the way.What you need to do is systems modeling and find a way to simulate systems behavior to help your design engineers come up with optimized concept products.
  3.  Validate your product often. Smart products are quite complex so you have different factors that you need to analyze.  When you can simulate the system’s behavior, you can easily validate your product to show that you have made the right decision when it comes to design.  It also helps your designers to analyze, interpret and report results.
  4.  Design by discipline. If you have laid all of your products’ requirements, you can easily have different parts of the product designed simultaneously.  The challenge at this stage is that different disciplines usually mean different tools and different design lifecycles.  However, parallel design efforts can help you cut the time to market.What you need to do is make sure that every member of your team knows what the others are doing through collaboration and communication.
  5. Revise when necessary. Always address errors and bugs in a timely manner, so you might want to manage these changes as well.  The thing with changes is that a change in one component would mean that designs for the others would also change.  As such it is imperative that everybody working on the design of your product knows all of these changes.

In all of these steps, a mechatronics collaboration platform can  help you do what needs to be done to make your smart products even more competitive.

Tech Clarity White paper

 

If you want to know more on how to master the development of your smart products, advance your business processes and systems maturity, and improve your products quality and time-to-market, download the Tech-Clarity white paper here.

How Microsoft Devices Group Streamlined its Global Development and Manufacturing Processes

By Estelle

 

Microsoft phone devices

Mobile devices and phones are a ubiquitous part of our daily lives.  Various manufacturers have come into the scene, offering differentiation on anything – from features, design, price and everything else in between.

Microsoft Devices Group has one goal in mind: to come up with technologically advanced products that are also something that you would want to have and proudly show off to the world.  Not only do their products have to be beautiful and technically superior, these also have to be functional: helping people do more while enjoying great experiences with their devices.

It is an interesting time for Microsoft.  With increased competition, the company needs to have that phone that would surpass all of its previous releases.  And design is one of the most crucial factors.

Being a multinational corporation, Microsoft has design talents in different parts of the world, and they needed to simplify the way they designed and developed their devices.  This involved changes to their process and organization on a global scale as they had people in different countries that needed to share ideas and work on these ideas.

At that point, Microsoft Devices Group was using third-party applications that they have to heavily customize to fit their needs.  As a result, they were incurring huge costs to maintain the software.  The company realized that they needed to standardize the installation of software at all their developmental sites in order to achieve the following:

  1. to make sure that they have shorter design cycle times for their products,
  2. to enable every stakeholder to access updated and accurate information about these products and
  3. to make their manufacturing and R&D units more efficient.

In the case of Microsoft Devices Group, they are able to leverage the Smarter, Faster, Lighter Industry Solution Experience and the HT body Industry Solution Experience to meet their needs.

 Easy design navigation and review with the 3DEXPERIENCE platformConcurrent Hardware Design with Smarter Faster Lighter solution

 

 

 

 

 

Those solutions used by Microsoft Devices Group currently for their design processes are working so well that the company plans to include other stakeholders into the mix.  Rather than limiting it to the design, engineering, manufacturing and other teams, they are now thinking of letting suppliers and similarly interested key parties get access of the information available on these platforms.  This way, it will be easier to send and receive information back and forth, while also allowing these key stakeholders to participate in the design process.   This would help the company come up with phones and devices that fit with their own goal of helping their customers “do more”.

Find out how Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE® platform and its High Tech industry solutions helped companies like Microsoft Devices Group get a lead on their design process by downloading the case study  and the video now  or by visiting the High Tech Ressource Center.



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