BEST Seminars 2012

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Monday, Oct. 29, 3:45: Optimization in Power Plant Engineering

The BEST Lab will be hosting an informal talk by former BEST Lab visiting scholar Masao Arakawa with abstract below.

In this talk, I would like to explain on how industrial people accept optimization in power plant engineering. We have done two different themes. Which are the problem of start-up of power plants and layout problem of buildings in power plants. In Japan, electric companies are divided severely, so that all power plants can run as scheduled. So that there are no needs to add start up scheduling at all. However,  especially in mid-Asian countries, they are selling electricity around the nations, and start-up scheduling becomes quite important. And the managers in each power plant must decide their schedule in about 15 minutes. However, it took about two hours to carry out one simulation. Thus, it seemed that they do not have any chance to optimize scheduling. To overcome this problem,  we have introduced meta-modeling by using RBF networks. And we have made approximate-multi-objective optimization. As a results, we have achieved the results which are quite similar to the experts and even more. For the layout problem, which is known as one of the most difficult one for mathematical programming. In this problem, we have introduced rule-based placement of each building. Then the problem turns placement problem to scheduling problem together of choice of rules for each building. With this step, we can most likely overcome the problem breaking constraints and we can search quasi-optimum results. We add PSO after this step and tried to find true optimum results. As a result, we have achieved the better solution than experts who has more than 15 years of experience.

Influencing Design Through the Effective Communication of Design Research

Celeste Roschuni
Ph.D. Candidate
Friday, July 27, 2012
2:00 P.M.
6153 Etcheverry Hall
(Vogt Room)

Abstract: Human-centered design has emerged as an important strategy in product and service design and development over the past forty years, as it has become recognized that understanding user needs is critical to product success.

That understanding typically emerges through user research: the systematic study of the attitudes, behaviors, and desires of potential users.  The impact of user research depends on its visibility and credibility to decision-makers. However, there are challenges to this visibility and credibility when there are organizational separations between those conducting the research and those involved in the product development. A specific team or company may conduct user research, and then pass what they learn to another team of industrial designers or engineers. Since the second team often neither conducts research activities nor participates in data analysis, they may not necessarily be aware of the research nor feel responsible to it. For that reason, the impact of user research in distributed human-centered design processes depends not only on how well researchers communicate the findings to other stakeholders in the design process, but also on how well they are able to convince those stakeholders of the relevance and importance of the research findings.

This work draws on a tradition of treating design as a social process where dialogue and argumentation enable stakeholders from different disciplines to collaboratively assemble a coherent and believable “story” about the product and the context of its use.  In-situ interviews, workplace tours, and case studies drawing on the experiences of fifteen expert user researchers and four design engineers were used to investigate the processes by which user research is propagated to other design stakeholders, and used to explore whether persuasive and motivational principles are used in this process.  The analysis of communication strategies employed by expert user researchers suggests approaching user research communication as a design problem, one amenable to the philosophies and skills of human-centered design.  The researchers in this study used the tools and methods of human-centered design in a similar and parallel design process, treating the other stakeholders as users of user research.  They first investigate their audiences’ needs as they investigate end users’ needs in a double ethnography, and then iteratively design and test their communication pieces to create actionable research deliverables, taking into account the audiences’ needs identified in the double ethnography. In the course of this mini human-centered design process, user researchers employ several communication tactics.  It is argued that these tactics be treated as a form of design method and be integrated into the overall design process as a distinct but important activity.  A summary of effective and persuasive communication methods for user research will be presented.

Committee Chair:       Prof. Alice Agogino (ME)
Inside Member:           Prof. Paul Wright (ME)
Outside Member:        Prof. Sara Beckman (Haas)

Poster Session Preview:The Role of Social Media in Design for Pomo Nation Community Center and Evaluating Sustainability Guidelines and Design Tools

Both at 3 pm in the Mezzanine of Hesse Hall, July 24, 2012. Note final poster session will be at 6:00pm at the UC Berkeley Alumni House, July 27.

The Role of Social Media in Design for Pomo Nation Community Center

Globalization has allowed for designers and architects to design for remote places without them being physically present on site. However, it has also created some designs that have not worked as Architects are usually unable to completely understand the culture, the needs and the wants of the people that they are designing for. A possible solution could be social media. By providing a virtual space in which designers and people can interact, social media could bridge the gap between designers and the place. In ParticiPlace 2012, an international design competition for designing a living culture center for the Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN), the effectiveness of social media has been tested. After setting up social media and providing information and updates through social media, designers were asked to rate the effectiveness in the end of the design competition. Designers stated that Facebook and twitter were not very effectual while responses were mixed for video posts and pictures. However, there were several unavoidable variables that might have produced biased results in this study and more studies need to be conducted to analyze how effective specific social media can be to help remote designing. The usefulness of social media in remote design, however, cannot be disregarded.

Evaluating Sustainability Guidelines and Design Tools

The road to developing sustainably-built environments is driven by a variety of its constituents’ incentives, including but not limited to cultural, ecological, and economic.  Architectural designers’ task is to understand the sometimes competing nature of a client’s incentives, and then deliver solutions which articulate their synergy.  In the United States today there are several sets of guidelines which provide systematic approaches to this problem:  U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), HOK Architecture’s Fully Integrated Thinking (FIT) lenses, Biomimicry Guild’s Life’s Principles, and the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Living Building Challenge, to name a few.  The effectiveness of these systems in practice can be assessed by how they aid the design process, final product performance, and end-user satisfaction.  Within the context of an international design competition (ParticiPlace 2012) to produce an off-grid, living cultural center for the Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN), we considered the question of sustainability guidelines as design tools.  ParticiPlace’s competition brief detailed for designers the tribe’s objectives, and sanctioned HOK’s FIT lenses as a guide to achieving them.  Through questionnaires and interviews with ParticiPlace designers, we learned that the lenses themselves were useful insofar as they expressed the client’s goals, but otherwise of marginal practical utility.  Despite this ostensibly mixed result, the study does validate the use of prescribed sustainable building guidelines primarily because they provide a language through which client/designer dialogue may occur, in addition to metrics which facilitate design evaluation.

Design of Technology for Collective Improvement and New Engineering Design Frameworks, Wed., July 18, 3:00 pm, BEST Lab, Mezzanine of Hesse Hall

Abtract: Social Intelligence Design (SID) as a research and practice field attempts to integrate and understand the intelligent and coordinated interactions among humans, artifacts, and environments. SID can be a potential approach to make positive exponential social changes and a tool to solve global challenges. SID-based technology innovation has been developed since 4+ years in a meta-multidisciplinary design and innovation process. 50+ innovative concepts have been developed under this paradigm. In the talk, we will present the SID-based innovation process and its related issues, then we will provide examples and initial extensions to the design of Personal/Body Area Networks, Virtual Reality Systems and a social intelligent city with Internet of Everything and WEB 4.0. We will mention new engineering design frameworks and provide other social impact concepts.

Bio: César Cárdenas is currently Short Term Scholar at UC Berkeley, he holds a PhD’10 (hons) in Telecomunications (Telecom ParisTech), Summer Session Program at the International Space University (ISU-SSP’97/Rice University and NASA JSC), MBA’99 studies, MSc’95, BSc’91 (hons). He is passionated by technology development for social improvement, internet and WEB of the future, and converging technologies (NBIC or BANG). Researcher in México and teacher at undergraduate and graduate both in engineering and business. More info:

The Role of Social Media in Design for Pomo Nation Community Center

Globalization has allowed for designers and architects to design for remote places without them being physically present on site. However, it has also created some designs that have not worked as Architects are usually unable to completely understand the culture, the needs and the wants of the people that they are designing for. A possible solution could be social media. By providing a virtual space in which designers and people can interact, social media could bridge the gap between designers and the place. In ParticiPlace 2012, an international design competition for designing a living culture center for the Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN), the effectiveness of social media has been tested. After setting up social media and providing information and updates through social media, designers were asked to rate the effectiveness in the end of the design competition. Designers stated that Facebook and twitter were not very effectual while responses were mixed for video posts and pictures. However, there were several unavoidable variables that might have produced biased results in this study and more studies need to be conducted to analyze how effective specific social media can be to help remote designing. The usefulness of social media in remote design, however, cannot be disregarded.


Mapping the Life Cycle Analysis and Sustainability Impact of Design for Environment Principles

Cindy Bayley will be giving a practice talk for her presentation next week at the LCE CIRP conference. Where: New BEST Lab in the mezzanine of Hesse Hall. When: May 16th, noon.

As engineers make decisions on how resources are allocated, used, and disposed in pursuit of a product, they impact sustainability’s triple bottom line of social, environmental, and economic factors. Design for Environment (DfE) principles help engineers identify possible sustainable paths forward. We collected over 300 DfE principles from 29 different sources, including textbooks, academic references, and industry resources on sustainable design. We coded each principleaccording to where it impacts the Product Lifecycle, and which Sustainability Impacts it addresses. Future work includes eliciting additional DfE principles for sparse categories, and developing DfE tools to inform sustainable decision making.

Wed., May 9, 2012, noon, Hesse Mezzanine, “Smart Windows: A Nano Approach,” Guillermo (Memo) Garcia, Mechanical Engineering, UC Berkeley

Abstract: Residential and commercial buildings represent a prime opportunity to improve energy efficiency and sustainability worldwide. Currently, lighting and thermal management within buildings account for 20% of the United State’s yearly energy consumption. It is estimated that the use of smart windows can achieve a 50% reduction in peak energy demand and a 30% reduction in overall energy use. Yet, smart windows have not reached their market potential due to their high cost (~$50-80/ft2). In this talk, an overview of current smart window technologies will be discussed and a solution to market penetration will be presented via a nano-based smart window coating with enhanced performance and cost reduction. Memo is finishing his dissertation and is aiming for the May deadline. He is also in the process of commercializing the technology he will talk about.

“Passive and Low Energy Architecture: The Israeli Approach within the Sustainable Building Standard, “May 8, noon, 250 Sutardja Dai Hall

Abstract: Current environmental assessment methods commonly use simple ‘point hunting’ approach. As a result, developers and design teams try to obtain “cheap and easy points”. Consequently, they avoid choosing “Energy points”. Additionally, “Energy points” are mainly achieved by improving the mechanical, electrical and hot water systems, since they are easier points to handle than designing low energy buildings, especially at the advanced design stages. This is in contrast with the fact that buildings are designed to last 50 to 100 years and the mechanical systems only 15 to 20 years, at most. The new Israeli “Sustainable Building (Green Building) Standard SI5281” attempts to overcome the deficiencies presented above by dividing the energy chapter into two parts; “Building energy performance” and “Building services systems”. Moreover, it tries to make the “Building performance points” easier to handle at the early design stages by using simple CAD tools for the performance based method, as well as providing simple design guidelines for the prescriptive-based method. The seminar presents the criteria and rules that Israeli Green Building standard applied in order to guarantee that green buildings will save energy and in order to avoid the faults of present situation that the minimum required points for energy saving may be achieved with no need to design the building as a low energy one. The seminar is devoted to the presentation and discussions of the evaluation methods as well as presenting the design guidelines and tools proposed for the early design stages.

Bio: Prof. Edna Shaviv is a professor emeritus of Architecture and Town planning and former Dean at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. She has many honors, including Pioneer in Renewable Energy in 1997 by the World Renewable Energy Network and as a Pioneer in Passive Solar Energy by the American Solar Energy Society in 2012 (and the reason for her visit to the SF Bay area to accept the award). Jointly sponsored with CITRIS.

Wed., May 2, 2012, noon, Hesse Mezzanine, “Economic and Environmental Assessment of Steel Fabrication Process Chains,” Stefanie Robinson, Mechanical Engineering, UC Berkeley

Practice Quals: Manufacturing processes are very resource intensive.  With rising costs, consumer awareness, and an increase in legislation, industry is driven to reduce their resource consumption.  Currently within industry, they do not have a way to accurately assess the resource consumption of the process chains used to manufacture a product.  As a result, this information is not taken into account when making decisions about which processes to implement to manufacture a product. The research proposed will develop a methodology to assess the economic and environmental impacts of steel fabrication process chains.  Streamlined life cycle methodology will be used to evaluate the impacts of steel fabrication process chains.  This research will enable manufacturing engineers to assess the resource consumption of steel fabrication process chains used in their factories.  This information will allow them to gain insight into the economic and environmental impacts associated with the use phase of manufacturing processes.  The outcomes of this research can be used to make more informed decisions when choosing the manufacturing processes to make a product.

“Design Activities at Science Centers,” Jennifer Wang, April 25, noon, Hesse Hall, Mezzanine

Abstract:My qualifying exam focuses on three areas: the duality of design and learning, visitors and facilitators at science centers, and designing learning environments.  These three areas will help prepare me for my future dissertation work.  My dissertation project aims to study an engineering education program as well as the roles and impacts on its participants at the Lawrence Hall of Science, an informal learning science center.  The context is an engineering design program currently open to the public on a drop-in basis during weekends.  This project will build on the current program by developing and implementing a collaboration model with industry engineers, engineering students, and museum educators to develop open-ended engineering design challenges for the program.

“Building Energy Information Systems: Best Practice Uses, and Advancing the State of Commercial Technology,” Jessica Granderson, April 18, noon, Hesse Hall, Mezzanine

Abstract: Information and monitoring systems are of critical importance in achieving optimal low-energy building performance. Advanced monitoring and analysis technologies with high energy saving potential are widely available in the commercial market, yet with low adoption rates, are still considered an ’emerging technology’. This presentation focuses on recent and current LBNL research in energy information systems, including: development of the Energy Information Handbook, and integration of lab-developed model-based diagnostics with commercial tools.

Bio: Dr. Jessica Granderson is a Research Scientist and Deputy Department Head of Building Technology and Urban Systems at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She is a member of the Commercial Buildings and Lighting research groups. Dr. Granderson holds a PhD and MS in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley, and an AB in Mechanical Engineering from Harvard University. Her research focuses on intelligent lighting controls and building energy performance monitoring and diagnostics

Computer Input Devices: Design for Well‐Being and Productivity, Anna Pereira, Public Health and Mechanical Engineering, April 11, noon, Hesse Hall, Mezzanine

Abstract:This study will examine ergonomic design of computer input devices. The study has two main objectives: To evaluate keyboard and tablet design for musculoskeletal well-being and productivity. The first study will evaluate the effects of vertical key spacing on a conventional computer keyboard on productivity, usability, forearm and shoulder muscle activity, and upper body posture. Keyboards with smaller vertical key spacing than the current standard may improve the usability, comfort, and biomechanics of the keyboard, especially for people with small hands. The second portion of the research will evaluate tablet design. The increased use of tablets and mobile devices may increase ergonomic risks: neck flexion, sustained pinch, and sustained shoulder loads. This study will evaluate standing hand held PC tablet size and weight, coupling, stylus diameter, and texture effects on productivity, usability, muscle activity, and posture. Results will provide designers with ergonomic guidelines for stylus diameter, design features that improve hand coupling, and texture for tablets based on usability, muscle activity, and posture.

How your refrigerator can help the smart grid: understanding the size of the resource in California, potential revenues, and costs, Johanna Mathieu, PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering, April 4, noon, Hesse Hall, Mezzanine

Download: JMathieu_BestTalk_4.4.12

Residential electric loads such as air conditioners, electric water heaters, and refrigerators can be aggregated and used to help the electricity grid by reducing peak loads and providing power systems services such as fast time-scale energy balancing.  We refer to these actions as Demand Response (DR), in which customers get financial compensation for changing either how much electricity they consume or when they consume it in order to help the grid.  Residential thermostatically controlled loads (TCLs) are particularly useful for fast timescale DR because they operate within a hysteretic ON/OFF dead-band and therefore can act much like energy storage devices, modulating power use around their baseline consumptions. Carefully designed DR schemes allow us to both control aggregations of TCLs to track a DR signal and ensure that they provide the service requested by the consumer. In this talk, I will describe some key opportunities related to DR.  Then I will describe some recent work to estimate the size of the potential resource in California; the potential revenue from participation in markets; and break-even costs associated with deploying DR-enabling technologies. We find that current TCL energy storage capacity in California is 8–11 GWh, with refrigerators contributing the most. Annual revenues from participation in power regulation vary from $10 to $220 per TCL per year depending upon the type of TCL and climate zone, while load following and energy arbitrage revenues are more modest.  All toll, our results point towards a number of policy recommendations including the design of new energy markets and communications/appliance standards that will make it easier to engage residential loads in fast timescale DR. Download Slides.

“Co-Designing Sustainable Communities: The Identification and Incorporation of Local Social Performance Metrics in Native American Sustainable Housing and Renewable Energy System Designs”, Ryan Shelby, PhD Candidate in Mechanical Engineering, Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 4:00 p.m. in 110 Barrows Hall


Currently, there is a shift towards the usage of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems for the development of sustainable building within Native American nations. The optimal strategies and decisions, however, vary with the social, geographical and economic conditions of each community, yet few building infrastructure projects take into account the local social performance metrics during the new product development of these projects. This paper describes a research partnership between the Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN) and UC Berkeley‘s Community Assessment of Renewable Energy and Sustainability (CARES) team during the co- design and development of sustainable housing that embeds geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaic systems, as well as the long-standing culture and traditions of the PPN. We present the co-design methodology created for this partnership, the Pinoleville Pomo Nation’s framework for sustainability, and the social performance metrics utilized by the PPN to develop sustainable housing that incorporate the latest sustainability best practices and renewable energy technologies as well as reflect the long-standing culture and traditions of the PPN.


Ryan Shelby is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include sustainability, renewable energy, energy systems modeling, decision support systems, co-design, ethnographic methods, user needs assessment, community based design, public participation, and environmental conflict resolution. Mr. Shelby’s dissertation research lies at the intersection engineering, policy, and society. The main outcome is a methodological framework that allows engineers and members of Native American nations to create a shared understanding of the social performance metrics in sustainability systems associated with the co-design and implementation of housing and renewable energy systems that meet the cultural, economic, and tribal sovereignty needs and goals of Native American nations. Mr. Shelby is the co-founder and project manager for the Community Assessment of Renewable Energy and Sustainability (CARES), a multidisciplinary team of engineers, architects and environmental specialists founded in 2007 with a grant from the NCIIA to address the disconnect between the creation of sustainability technological innovations by engineers and the needs of end users.

“Towards Better Design Teams: Designers’ Information Sharing Behavior and Tool Use,” Lora Oehlberg, PhD Candidate, Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 5:00 pm, February 22, Berkeley Institute of Design


Developing innovative products and services benefits from collaboration within multidisciplinary design teams. Design teams gather and generate large quantities of information, including user research, information about competing products and applicable technologies, and new design ideas; however, teams often struggle to synthesize this diverse design information. Collaboration can break down if they cannot form a shared understanding of the design problem. My work examines current design practices to construct theoretical models of the design process and to develop new tools to help design teams create, communicate, and collaborate.
In this talk, I will explore how individual information tools are used to support collaborative design processes, and suggest forms for future tools. I will present a series of qualitative research studies, including interviews of individual designers and observations of face-to-face team meetings, that characterize how design teams operate in practice. These studies informed a series of conceptual frameworks that describe information sharing throughout individual and collaborative design tasks. I will also describe the development of Dazzle, an information sharing tool for face-to-face design teams that allows teammates to share, log, and annotate their shared design resources. Finally, I will explore the implications for future design tools, and discuss how we can improve creative practice by strengthening collaborative discussion and shared understanding.


Lora Oehlberg is a PhD Candidate in Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on design theory and methodology, and frequently extends into human-computer interaction and engineering design education. She has worked in product design and development at Apple Inc., Squid Labs, and Autodesk. She has been recognized for her teaching at UC Berkeley with an Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award (2009) and a Teaching Effectiveness Award (2010). She is a member of the Berkeley Institute of Design and a former editor-in-chief of Ambidextrous Magazine. She has an MS from UC Berkeley and a BS from Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering.

“Designing Complex Engineered Systems of the 21st Century”, Wei Chen, Ph.D. Wilson-Cook Professor in Engineering Design, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University, Thursday, February 2nd, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Berkeley Institute of Design, 360 Hearst Memorial Building


The design of complex “engineered” systems in the 21st century poses a set of common challenges, to name a few, the complexity and computational cost of system analysis, the heterogeneity of information at different levels of abstraction, the various sources of uncertainties, the multidisciplinary organization with conflicting goals, and the difficulty in understanding the socio-technical interfaces.  Classical systems engineering approaches which focus on processes for cascading engineering requirements from higher to lower system levels is no longer suited to dealing with the global and socio-technical aspects of the 21st century complex systems. This presentation will first explore the research challenges and opportunities in designing complex “engineered” systems, next provide some examples of research projects on complex systems in the field of engineering design, and then focus on two specific topics, i.e., (1) design of multiscale systems and (2) integrating heterogeneous consumer preference into enterprise-driven product design.  Research in multiscale design presents the significant benefits of using computational design techniques for designing novel materials, new products, and new processes with exceptional system performance across diverse application domains such as material, energy, and medicine.  Integrating consumer choice models into product design demonstrates the potential of combining analytical choice modeling with social networks for studying the social influence on new product adoption.  It is concluded in this presentation that as systems continue to grow with increased complexity and more stringent requirements, many unanswered questions can be tackled using rigorous design methodologies.


Dr. Wei Chen is the Wilson-Cook Chair Professor in Engineering Design at Northwestern University.  Affiliated with the Segal Design Institute as a Faculty Fellow, she is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, with courtesy appointment in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.  Directing the Integrated DEsign Automation Laboratory (IDEAL-, her current research involves issues such as simulation-based design under uncertainty, model validation, stochastic multiscale analysis and design, robust shape and topology optimization, multidisciplinary optimization, consumer choice modeling and enterprise-driven decision-based design.   She is the co-founder and Director of the interdisciplinary doctoral cluster in Predictive Science and Engineering Design (PSED) at Northwestern, a program aiming for integrating scientific, physics-based modeling and simulation into design of innovative “engineered” systems.

Dr. Chen received her Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1995.  She is an elected member of the ASME Design Engineering Division (DED) Executive Committee and currently serving as the DED executive chair of the Technical Committees.  She is also an elected Advisory Board member of the Design Society, an international design research community.  She is an Associate Editor of the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design and serves as the review editor of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization.