SDO Lab logoThe System Design Optimization (SDO) Laboratory is part of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NC State University. The focus of our work is to advance the state-of-the-art in engineering design theory by creating tools and methodologies that help designers interpret and analyze system interactions while minimizing the performance tradeoffs inherent to complex systems.

Why: Designers constantly balance an exchange between multiple, conflicting objectives. These conflicting objectives result from the organizational, political and human interactions that serve to define the criteria under which the system operates. Our research is motivated by the fact that on a daily basis, even the most basic decisions require making tradeoffs that balance what we want with what is available.

How: To address these challenges, we draw upon research in multiobjective / multidisciplinary optimization, market demand modeling, game theory and design theory. Currently, the lab pursues four primary research thrusts:

  1. Reconfigurable system design
  2. Demand modeling, product platforming, and mass customization
  3. System of systems design
  4. Improving engineering design education

Who we are: The System Design Optimization Laboratory was founded by Dr. Scott Ferguson in 2008 when he arrived at NC State. Members of our lab work as a team, and we work to foster a collaborative, productive research environment for all members. Where possible, Dr. Ferguson works with his students to identify research projects that fit within the lab vision and peak a student's interest and passion. Typically, students will complete their MS thesis within one and a half to two years, and then their doctoral dissertation in three plus years. On a case-by-case basis, students may be advised on a direct-to-PhD path after completing their undergraduate education.