Erin MacDonald, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State and affiliated researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy Ames Laboratory, recently received the ASME Design Automation Young Investigator Award.
The award recognizes an outstanding young investigator who is making noteworthy contributions in the area of design automation, including research in design representation, design optimization, design evaluation, and/or design integration.
MacDonald’s research integrates concepts from psychology, economics, and marketing into engineering design methods. She aims to increase the sustainability of products and technologies by improving the representation of the consumer in the design process.
“Being selected as Outstanding Young Investigator is such an honor. It demonstrates that quantitatively combining social science with engineering is gaining traction in the engineering design community,” MacDonald said. ”It was a great feeling to celebrate this award with my lab group, the IRIS Design lab, as we have all worked hard the past three years to establish this new field of research.”
She added that sustainable technologies and products are only successful when people accept, adopt, and use them. “This is a complex concern that engineers can and should address as user needs, starting right at the conceptual design phase, with the help of other disciplines,” she said.
MacDonald was honored with a certificate and an honorarium during ASME’s 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference in Chicago, Illinois, which took place August 12–15. She is the fourth recipient of the award.