The consideration of function is prevalent across numerous domains as a technique allowing complex problems to be abstracted into a form more readily solvable. In engineering design, functional models tend to be of a more generalized nature, and consequently, engineering design derived functional representations do not aim to replace domain specific models but to encapsulate those models at a higher and more integrated system level. While the value of function in engineering design seems to be generally recognized, it remains a difficult concept to teach to students of engineering design. In this paper, an algorithmic approach to teaching function and functional model generation is presented. The approach uses a series of grammar rules to assemble function chains from a list of enumerated functions desired of the final product. Function chains can then be aggregated into a complete functional model. The approach has been trialed with senior capstone design students taught about functionality as well as how to generate a black box model and how to enumerate functions. Student-generated functional models are compared to expert generated functional models in the paper. Preliminary results indicate that a student with limited functional modeling experience could follow the prescribed algorithm to generate an aggregated functional model based solely on a black box model.

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