e-Design Team presents at 2017 ASME IDETC/CIE Conference

August 6-9, 2017

August 2017: The UMass Center for e-Design attended the 2017 annual meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Computers and Information in Engineering Conference


• Dr. Ian Grosse Tom Hagedorn presented an invited talk entitled, “BFO Conformal Ontologies to Support Engineering Design and Innovation” at the third Industrial Ontology Foundation (IOF) workshop.

• Dr. Doug Eddy presented a paper entitled, “A Domain Driven Approach to Metamodeling in Additive Manufacturing”

• Zhou Yang presented a paper entitled, “Investigating Grey-Box Modeling for Predictive Analytics in Smart Manufacturing”

• Shreyas Patil presented a poster entitled, “Information Modelling Framework for CAD and Additive Manufacturing Process Relationships”

e-Design Students Present at Poster Session

August 4, 2017

UMass Center for e-Design summer research students Declan Gwynne and Devin Caufield presented posters summarizing their work at the 2017 annual summer research undergraduate research poster session.

UMass Advanced Manufacturing Facilities  Grand Opening

June 30, 2017

The UMass Center for e-Design team presented at the grand opening of new advanced manufacturing laboratories at the UMass Institute for Applied Life Sciences. Site director Professor Sundar Krishnamurty and Dr. Doug Eddy led tours of the newly opened Advanced Digital Design and Fabrication (ADDFab) laboratory, a facility supporting additive manufacturing capabilities using 5 cutting edge printing technologies. Graduate student Tom Hagedorn and summer undergraduate researcher Declan Gwynne toured the associated Device Characterization facilities. Dr. Davoud Jafarlou, Zhou Yang, Shreyas Patil, Devin Caufield, and Tom Hagedorn presented research posters at the event.

UMass Center for e-Design Presents at 2017 IAB Meeting

May 2017

Drs. Sundary Krishnamurty and Doug Eddy and UMass Center for e-Design doctoral student Shreyas Patil attended semi-annual Center for e-Design IAB Meeting and Penn State.

e-Design Team Attends 2nd IOF Workshop

April 10, 2017

Dr. Ian Grosse and UMass Center for e-Design doctoral candidate Tom Hagedorn attended the second meeting of the Industrial Ontology Foundry (IOF) workshop at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) April 10-11, 2017.

UMass Center for e-Design presents at the MatOnto Ontology meeting

April 3, 2017

Professor Ian Grosse and UMass Center for e-Design student Tom Hagedorn both remotely presented talks at the MatOnto Workshop held at the University of Buffalo April 3, 2017.Tom Hagedorn presented a talk entitled, “ Dr. Ian Grosse presented a talk entitled: “SLACKS: Semantic Laminated Composite Knowledge System”

Team launches new ADDFab effort for Additive Manufacturing

March 20, 2015

In the summer of 2014, new additive manufacturing equipment was acquired to launch the advanced design and fabrication (ADDFab) research and development effort of the College of Engineering. ADDFab is a part of the new Center for Personalized Health Monitoring (CPHM). CPHM conducts research and training to assist the future workforce to acquire the skills needed for the emerging digital healthcare industry. ADDFab supports the mission of CPHM with design testing and integrated precision manufacturing capabilities for the medical device community.

Alumnus Wins 2014 Young Engineer Award

March 20, 2015

Dr. Paul Witherell, an alumnus of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, has received the 2014 Young Engineer Award from the Computers and Information in Engineering (CIE) Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The CIE division sponsors the Young Engineer Award to recognize a promising young investigator who is making outstanding contributions to the progress in the application of computers in engineering. Link to article: https://www-edesign.sws.iastate.edu/our-former-student-dr-paul-witherell-received-the-2014-young-engineer-award/#more-763

Witherell received his Ph.D. (2009), M.S. (2006), and B.S. (2004) in Mechanical Engineering from the MIE department. As a graduate student, Witherell was a member of the NSF Center for e-Design team, developing semantic methods and ontologies to support mechanical design.

Witherell is a mechanical engineer in the Life Cycle Engineering Group of the Systems Integration Division at the Engineering Laboratory in NIST. Witherell’s primary research interests are Additive Manufacturing, Design for Sustainability, Knowledge Representation in Product Development, Design Optimization, and Ontology and Semantic Relatedness for Manufacturing.

In 2009, Witherell was awarded the prestigious National Research Council’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Award from NIST, where he was later hired into his present position. His work focuses on identifying integration and technology solutions to enable the smart and sustainable design and manufacture of products with a focus in additive manufacturing technologies. In this capacity, Witherell is involved with producing and promoting industry acceptance of information models, standards, and open architectures for smart product design and manufacture. He has mentored many undergraduate and graduate students who have visited NIST.

Witherell currently serves as the Associate Program Manager of a multi-million dollar NIST program on Additive Manufacturing. Within this program, Dr. Witherell manages a project on Systems Integration for Additive Manufacturing, which combines engineering and information sciences to benefit the emerging area of additive manufacturing. The project focuses on the flow of information from design through production of additive parts. Witherell also leads standards work in ASTM E60 to provide guidance to industry for improving the sustainability of manufacturing processes through better impact assessment.

Witherell has been a member of ASME since 2002 and involved with the ASME CIE conferences since 2005. He has served in roles such as reviewer, review coordinator, session chair, workshop organizer, topic organizer, and technical committee chair. Paul has served similar roles in the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Paul serves on the Programme Committee for the International Conference of Product Lifecycle Management and is a reviewer for several journals.

Witherell achieved the rank of Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps Reserves, serving one-year active duty in 2003, and was Honorably Discharged in 2006.

Since graduating from the MIE department, Witherell has provided scholarship support to College of Engineering students and has also been a mentor to several undergraduate and graduate students associated with the UMass Center for e-Design, including Jeffrey McPherson, Jay Briendel, Doug Eddy, and Ed Roy. In addition, during the summer of 2014, he was the sponsor and technical supervisor to Andrew Dodd, currently a senior with the MIE department, for his summer project at NIST. (October 2014)

McCaffey Produces Brainswarming Video

June 2, 2014

Dr. Tony McCaffrey, a former postdoctoral researcher and current collaborator in the Center for e-Design at our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, has produced a short video to explain the new “Brainswarming” tool he has created for Innovation Accelerator, Inc., the company he founded with its CEO, James O. Pearson, an alumnus of the MIE department. Brainswarming, consisting of software that provides a better, more efficient process as an alternative to brainstorming, is the latest tool to emerge from McCaffrey’s research and will soon become an online platform for remote group work. A game version of Brainswarming is also available.

Watch the video for more information on what Brainswarming is and how you can implement it:

Video: http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/03/why-you-should-stop-brainstorming/                      
Original Article: http://mie.umass.edu/news/mccaffey-produces-brainswarming-video

Driving Innovation to Compete in the Global Economy

January 12, 2014


REU Students Present Work at Campus-Wide Poster Session

August 15, 2013


Edward Roy and Leo Xuzhang Lin presented their summer research at the campus-wide UMass Amherst REU Poster Session on Friday, August 2. While Roy worked with Jeffrey McPherson to look at improving the usability of current semantic information systems, Lin worked with Dr. Tony McCaffrey on a project about automatic information retrieval from patents for design innovation. Their project abstracts as well as their posters can be seen below.

Read the rest of this entry →

Dr. McCaffrey Featured in New Book: Red Thread Thinking

May 31, 2013

Dr. Anthony McCaffrey’s work on functional fixedness has been featured in Debra Kaye’s recently published book, “Red Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation”. The book is available for purchase on amazon.com.

Dr. McCaffrey’s work on Analogy Finder was also featured on Debra Kaye’s blog, Red Thread Thinking, in a post called “Someone Else Made It: You Monetize It”. Excerpts from both the book and the blog can be seen below.

“Psychologists use the term functional fixedness to describe the first mental obstacle that McCaffrey investigated. It explains, for example, how one person finding a burr stuck to his sweater might say, “Uh-oh, a burr”, then tear the burr off and discard it, while another person might say, “Oh, a burr… look how it sticks to my sweater… that’s useful,” and then goes on to invent Velcro. The first, and more common, reaction focuses on an object’s typical function and its annoying or negative implications (the sweater has a pull on it). The second focuses on the possibilities of the function beyond its impact on the sweater.

To overcome functional fixedness, McCaffrey looked for a way to teach people to reinterpret known information about common objects to see beyond those objects’ common functions. For each part of an object, the “generic parts technique” (GPT) sections of this test asks users to list function-free descriptions, including an object’s material, shape, and size. For instance, the prongs of an electric plug can be described in a function-free way to reveal that they might be used as a screwdriver. “The trick is how to unconceal the features relevant to your purposes,” says McCaffrey.”

-Debra Kaye, “Red Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation”

“As high as 90% of the problems we solve today have already been solved in a different context, according to estimates by problem-solving experts. All great innovators cast a wide net to incite creative thought by looking beyond their category and into analogous businesses around the world. The problem: time, effort and often happenstance needed to seek out all those corresponding ideas and technologies.”

-Dr. Anthony McCaffrey and Debra Kaye (http://www.redthreadthinking.com/someone-else-made-it-you-monetize-it/)


UMass Visits Iowa State: Spring 2013 IAB Meeting

April 9, 2013

Iowa State University hosted the Spring 2013 Industry Advisory Board (IAB) Meeting from April 2nd-4th. Students were able to share recent research developments with industry members of the center, and were also able to view the work of their peers. The University of Massachusetts Amherst e-Design group sent 7 members (3 faculty, 3 graduate students, 1 postdoctoral scholar) to the meeting.


Dr. Tony McCaffrey presenting his project Innovation Enhancement and Semantic Network Representation in Design


Graduate student Jeffrey McPherson presenting his project Integration of e-Design Ontologies and Methods into Commercial Design Processes


Graduate student Douglas Eddy presenting his project A Semantic Knowledge Management System for Sustainable Product Design


Graduate student Vivek Premkumar presenting his project A Semantic Knowledge Management System for Laminated Composites



Dr. Anthony McCaffrey Featured in The Guardian

January 18, 2013

Dr. Anthony McCaffrey’s work on analogy finder has been featured in a column in The Guardian.

McCaffrey, last featured here addressing the related matter of “functional fixedness” – the mental block that stops us seeing alternative uses for everyday objects – begins with an observation: most creative breakthroughs arise through analogy. Alexander Graham Bell modelled the telephone on the human ear. A hitch with the Hubble space telescope was fixed when a Nasa engineer taking a shower in a German hotel saw how he might borrow the design of the shower head. Enter the problem you’re trying to solve, and McCaffrey’s “analogy finder” software, already released in initial form, will hunt patent databases, research libraries, et cetera, for analogous solutions. He cites the example of a ski company, beset by a major problem: at high speeds, their skis vibrated, lost contact with the snow and sent skiers out of control.

The key to a solution lies in how you state the problem. You need to strip it of context and colour; more technically, McCaffrey argues, you need to reduce it to a specific form: “verb, noun-phrase, prepositional-phrases”. What the ski firm really needed to do was to “reduce vibrations over 1,800 hertz”. From there, it’s an easier leap from one domain to another: similar vibrations, it turns out, play havoc with violins, causing sound distortion. Violin designers address this by using a metal grid; the ski designers, finding the analogy, adapted it: problem solved.

-Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian

For more of this article, visit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jan/11/change-your-life-creative-thinking


Krishnamurty and Collaborators Get I-Corps Award

October 22, 2012

Dr. Sundar Krishnamurty and Dr. Tony McCaffrey of the University of Massachusetts Center for e-Design, along with Karen Utgoff of the University of Massachusetts, have been granted a 2012 National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) award. Below is an excerpt from the article on the University of Massachusetts Mechanical and Industrial Engineering news page http://mie.umass.edu/news/krishnamurty-and-collaborators-get-nsf-grant-support-innovation-accelerator.

Sundar Krishnamurty, the director of the Center for e-Design and a professor in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, leads a multidisciplinary team that received a 2012 National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, award. The I-Corps program aims to prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and broadens the impact of select NSF-funded projects. It is one of 100 awards for this year and the first such grant awarded to UMass Amherst. The project funded by the NSF builds upon a fundamental new way of thinking about innovation, tentatively called an “Innovation Accelerator” (AI), and replaces the minimally successful artificial intelligence techniques from the 1980s that were unable to get machines to be innovative by themselves.

Post-doctoral researcher Tony McCaffrey of the Center for e-Design is the team’s entrepreneurial lead, while Karen Utgoff, a market-oriented strategist, serves as a mentor from the business perspective.

The grant will support the Center for e-Design’s project entitled “Innovation Accelerator: A New Web-based Portal Software Tool to Find Disruptive Innovative Solutions.” The grant is aimed at helping to commercialize a product based on research done at the center: a human-machine synergism in which humans and machines complement each other during the innovation process.

Please read more at: http://mie.umass.edu/news/krishnamurty-and-collaborators-get-nsf-grant-support-innovation-accelerator


IAB October 2012: A Great Success!

October 16, 2012

This year’s October IAB Meeting was a great success. Growth of the Center for e-Design was on full display; faculty and students from the participating universities met with representatives from the partner-industries. Students were able to collect feedback from industry partners that would help them tailor their projects to address real-world problems, and industry partners were able to view projects from other universities in the Center.

REU Students Present Summer Research at REU Poster Session

August 1, 2012

Casey Baker and Ryan Szeto presented their summer research at the campus-wide UMass Amherst REU Poster Session on Friday, July 27th. While Baker explored the semantic capabilities of current Product Lifecycle Management tools, Szeto extended the suite of features covered by a Computer-aided Design interoperability tool. Their project abstracts can be seen below.

Semantic Awareness in Product Lifecycle Management Systems

Large enterprises turn to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems to organize product development and to reduce time to market. Semantic awareness has the potential to enrich PLM systems, yet semantic functionality has not gone mainstream. The goal of this research was to discover the barriers to and opportunities for adopting semantic functionality. A case study was preformed with a widely used PLM system (PTC’s Windchill), in which the PLM system was used to help with the design and fabrication of a product. Windchill’s functionality and limitations were observed as the product was realized. It was observed that simple and intuitive features trump cluttered or complex ones. Additionally, users are more likely to use a simple feature which can easily be understood rather than a confusing or obscure feature, no matter how great the potential gain. These findings suggest that usability is crucial to new software features in general, but especially to the adoption of new semantic functionality in PLM systems.

Feature-Based CAD Interoperability- Ryan Szeto 

Accurate and efficient feature data exchange between computer-aided design (CAD) systems is critical in collaborative engineering environments. This research applies concepts of computer science to an engineering problem; specifically, it explores the advantages of a programming language approach to the exchange of feature information between commercial CAD systems. In our approach, feature-based representations of CAD models correspond to programs or abstract syntax trees (ASTs) in the language modeling the CAD systems. Previously, a software tool was created to convert some 2D features from a Pro/Engineer part file to a SolidWorks part file through intermediary open XML representations. This summer, the functionality of this tool was extended by completely converting additional 2D features such as arcs, constraints, and angle dimensions. Additionally, work was done toward implementing a converter from SolidWorks to Pro/E.

IAB October 2012: A Great Success!

October 16, 2012

Siemens has been recognized by the University of Massachusetts College of Engineering for their generous software grant to the Center for e-Design. The article from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering news page can be seen below.

University of Massachusetts Amherst Receives In-kind Software Grant from Siemens PLM Software with a Commercial Value of Nearly $2.3 Million

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for e-Design in the College of Engineering announced today that it has received an in-kind software grant from Siemens PLM Software, a leading global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services, with a commercial value of nearly $2.3 million. The grant was provided by Siemens PLM Software’s Global Opportunities in PLM (GO PLM™ initiative), a program that delivers PLM technology to more than one million students yearly at more than 11,000 global institutions, where it is used at every academic level – from grade schools to graduate engineering research programs.

The grant includes Teamcenter® software, the world’s most widely used digital lifecycle management system, and NX™ software, a leading integrated solution for computer-aided design, manufacturing, and engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE).

The UMass Amherst Center for e-Design is a National Science Foundation supported Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, whose mission is to serve as a nucleus of excellence for the creation and dissemination of a systematic body of knowledge in intelligent e-design and product realization.

By using the software in their classrooms, UMass Amherst students will work with the same technology that leading global companies and professional engineers around the world depend on every day. This, in turn, enables students to position themselves as heavily-recruited graduates as the need for workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields continues to grow.

“The UMass Amherst College of Engineering is most grateful to Siemens PLM Software for this generous grant of advanced engineering software, as it enables our students to better prepare for successful engineering careers,” said UMass Amherst College of Engineering Dean Ted Djaferis. “By using this technology in the Center for e-Design, our students will now be working with the same tools used by industry experts and gaining important real-world experience during their studies.”

“Partnering with the Center for e-Design once again is certainly a benefit for us because it enables us to have a part in tomorrow’s innovations and work with top design talent,” said Bill Boswell, senior director, partner strategy, Siemens PLM Software. “As product complexity continues to grow, students who are able to use PLM technology are expected to be highly recruited upon graduation. UMass Amherst is educating the next generation of engineers and to be part of that effort enables us to support the country’s endeavors to revitalize manufacturing.”

Of note, the grant continues a long association between the Center for e-Design and Vistagy, Inc., which was purchased in the fall of 2011 by Siemens PLM Software and is now the Specialized Engineering Software business segment of Siemens PLM Software. In 2009 and 2010, Vistagy, co-founded by university alumni Steve Luby (B.S. ’84, M.S. ’86) and Ralph Verrilli (B.S. ’85, M.S. ’87), granted software licenses for the company’s Fibersim™ portfolio that is used for composites engineering, a very sophisticated and specific piece of software which is integrated into popular 3D  (CAD) systems.

“This ongoing partnership with Siemens PLM Software is going to help our center move forward,” explained Sundar Krishnamurty, professor of  Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and site-director of the UMass Amherst Center for e-Design. “It’s also going to allow us to extend our work to a multitude of platforms, which is exactly what we were looking for when we started the Center for e-Design. This generous grant from Siemens gives us a unique opportunity to showcase the design framework we are developing and build relationships with technology developers like Siemens PLM Software and technology end users, such as the customers of Raytheon. It also enables us to showcase our work to the eight universities that are members of the Center for e-Design plus about 30 industrial partners we work with frequently.” (July 2012)

Taken from: http://mie.umass.edu/news/university-massachusetts-amherst-receives-kind-software-grant-siemens-plm-software-with-commerc

Dr. Anthony McCaffrey Featured in Scientific American Mind

July 13, 2012

Dr. Anthony McCaffrey‘s research on innovation was featured in two articles in the July/August issue of Scientific American Mind. The article is available on page 8 of the attachment below.

Scientific American Mind Article


Dr. Anthony McCaffrey Featured in Atlantic

May 21, 2012

Anthony McCaffrey, postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for e-Design in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, was the subject of an article in The Atlantic, one of the nation’s oldest and most respected publications.The Atlantic article continued the national coverage for the method developed by McCaffrey to enhance anyone’s problem-solving skills, especially engineers, inventors, and other innovators. McCaffrey believes his Obscure Features Hypothesis (OFH) has led to the first systematic, step-by-step approach to devising innovation-enhancing techniques for overcoming a wide range of cognitive obstacles to invention. Additional media coverage includes articles in Psych Central, Red Orbit, Science Daily, Science Codex, and a column in the San Francisco Chronicle.

McCaffrey is a cognitive psychology researcher who has studied common roadblocks to problem-solving. He recently won a two-year, $170,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to turn his technique into software with a user-friendly graphical interface. Initial users will likely be engineers.

Article taken from http://mie.umass.edu/news/mccaffrey-featured-atlantic 


Dr. Anthony McCaffrey Published in Psychological Science

February 9, 2012


Dr. Anthony McCaffrey’s work on innovation enhancement has been featured in many different media outlets over the past few weeks and months. Please browse the news listings below to learn about his work.


  • The top psychology journal, “Psychological Science”, has published Dr. Anthony McCaffrey’s recent research on innovation-enhancement.
  • The PBS station WHBY TV interviewed Dr. McCaffrey. He discusses many real-world applications of his innovation technique.
  • He was recently interviewed by the NPR station WFCR.
  • Dr. McCaffrey was also featured in an article on the University of Massachusetts Amherst website titled “Anyone Can Learn to Be More Inventive, Says UMass Amherst Psychology Researcher Who Studies Problem Solving”.
  • Inc.com, a website for business entrepreneurs, published an article about Dr. McCaffrey’s work.


Dr. Anthony McCaffrey is a member of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for e-Design team.