The Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory (ASDL) was founded in 1992 to bridge the gap between academia and industry research perspectives, and it has grown to be one of the nation’s premier entities for aerospace systems and complex design. ASDL is part of the School of Aerospace Engineering which is one of the original Guggenheim schools.
Since its inception, ASDL has continued to grow and develop new design methods. In 1994, the lab created the Georgia Tech Generic Concurrent Engineering (CE) and Integrated Product and Process Development (IPPD) methodologies. In 1995, it created a methodology for advanced sizing/synthesis, pioneering research in Response Surface Methodologies (RSM) for advanced sizing and synthesis. The following year saw the development of Robust Design Simulation (RDS) to examine economic uncertainty and viability. By 1997, ASDL had created a Technology Impact Forecasting (TIF) and Probabilistic Analysis technique through Fast Probability Integration (FPI). The Technology Identification, Evaluation, and Selection (TIES) methodology was established in 1998 and has been widely used in government and industry. This approach showed the effects of technologies on affordability. Technology uncertainty modeling and a Unified Tradeoff Environment (UTE) to evaluate technologies and requirements concurrently followed in 1999 and 2000, respectively. In 2001, a process to assess and track technology metrics (Technology Metric Assessment and Tracking - TMAT) was developed by ASDL for use in NASA's Ultra Efficient Engine Technology program. In 2003 the Virtual Integrated Propulsion Environment for Revolutionary Concepts, Architecture, and Technology (VIPERCAT) is formulated and under development. VIPERCAT is a physics-based simulation environment for assessing propulsion technologies, revolutionary concepts, and architectures. Also during 2003, ASDL proposed an Integrated Reconfigurable Intelligent Systems (IRIS) framework to facilitate the design of US Navy's next-generation surface combatant with increased survivability, mission effectiveness and reduced operating cost. A Dynamic Modeling and Simulation Environment for Reconfigurable Systems (DMSERS) was developed to explore the design space and investigate the complex behavior that these systems will exhibit in a dynamic environment. The following year, 2004, the first implementation of Strategic Prioritization and Planning (SP2) process performed in developing the Future U.S. Aeronautics R&T Plan for the United States Congress. SP2 is an expert-based series of decision matrices that are related qualitatively through different levels of abstraction and is the detailed process for program planning. In 2005, ASDL developed the Interactive Reconfigurable Matrix of Alternatives (IRMA) method, which is a systematic qualitative procedure that is unique to the conceptual design process. The IRMA is a combination of Systems Engineering techniques such as Matrix of Alternatives, Multi-Attributes Decision Making (MADM) and Technique for Ordered Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solutions (TOPSIS). These tools provide a process for functionally decomposing the problem, identifying alternatives and technologies to meet the functions as well as identifying the solutions the meet the top level needs. In 2006, the first version of Environmental Design Space (EDS) capability was demonstrated for a 300 passenger class vehicle system. EDS is an aircraft modeling and simulation environment developed by ASDL based on NASA simulations tools, which is capable of capturing interdependencies between fuel burn, noise, and emissions. Also in 2006, the technique of Filtered Monte Carlo Simulation (MCS) is introduced based on the surrogate modeling. Filtered MCS "filters" or reduces the number of solutions from hundreds or thousands to a handful of points by applying constraints at the top level and identifying solutions that are left at the system and subsystem level. In 2007, ASDL expanded into the realm of system and systems and architecture-based design, developing the Architecture-based Technology Evaluation and Capability Tradeoff (ARCHITECT) Methodology through first the ASDL Architecture Working Group and later through ONR-sponsored research. In 2009, a system dynamics approach to fleet assessment was developed to model environmental impact of aviation and time dependent variations including policy effects. Once ASDL was well established as a leader in both qualitative and quantitative design methods, the Relational-Oriented Systems Engineering and Technology Tradeoff Analysis (ROSETTA) environment was created to bridge the gap between the two worlds and formally bring together these methodologies to improve future studies. This research initiative was started in late 2010. Most recently in 2011, ASDL developed a rapid dynamic simulation system for combined cycle power plants enabling plant mission optimization.
As ASDL’s methods have developed and progressed, so have the lab’s affiliations with industry and government, which can be seen in the diversity of the funding that ASDL continues to receive. ASDL has also grown in terms of those involved with the organization. The laboratory obtains direction and feedback from the External Advisory Board (EAB) consisting of chief scientists, managers, and directors of related government organizations and aerospace industry companies. The role of the ASDL EAB is to provide feedback and/or direction to guide the laboratory’s research. This review board is invited to Georgia Tech on an annual basis during which both students and research staff showcase the research efforts for the year. This review format has provided valuable dialogue, technical collaboration, and technology transfer.