Enabling Probabilistic Risk Assessment Instruction During the Conceptual Design Phase: Function Based Risk Analysis


Most decisions about a product, i.e. form, function, aesthetics, etc, are made during the conceptual phase of product design. Since those decisions not only impact product performance but also product failures, methods to address the potential product failures (risks) should be initiated during this design phase, before a product has assumed physical form. This paper presents the Risk in Early Design (RED) method as the backbone of the graduate level Function Based Risk Assessment course to teach an interdisciplinary group of engineers how to use traditional PRA techniques such as failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), fault trees, and event trees in conceptual product design. The innovative use of specific engineering taxonomies and knowledge-base failure data representation allows RED to identify product risks armed only with product function. Moreover, the engineering taxonomies used in RED drastically reduce communication issues prevalent in risk assessment due to natural language. RED provides the students with a database of expertise from which to draw their engineering knowledge in order to perform other PRA techniques successfully and in the process builds each student's own knowledge-base, or experience, of relevant product failures.

Meeting Name

2007 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition (2007: Jun. 24-27, Honolulu, HI)


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Risk in Early Design (RED); Product Design; Product Failures

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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