Logo: University of Southern California

Maria Yang Awarded NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award

March 02, 2006 —
Maria Yang, an assistant professor in the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has won a highly competitive National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for her work in early stage design process modeling. 
The $400,000 award will support Yang’s research over a five-year period beginning July 1, 2006. 

Maria Yang
The award is one of NSF’s highest honors for young faculty members and recognizes the early career development activities of “teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.”  Recipients are selected on the basis of “creative career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of the university.” 

Yang’s CAREER project, “A Design Data Analysis Approach to Early Stage Design Process Modeling,” will determine models and measures for the conceptual or formulation phase of the engineering design process.
“Decisions that are made at the very early stages, when a product is still just an idea, will have a strong impact on the later phases of design,” Yang said.  “The challenge will be to come up with measures and a model of that process across industries and product types.”  

Yang will document a wide variety of design processes in such industries as aerospace, automotive, and consumer electronics. Gathering text, sketches, and prototypes drawn from design artifacts and documentation, she will determine models and process measures that will eventually serve as indicators of potential design outcome.

“Effective engineering design processes are critical to innovative product development,” she said.  “If you can design something better, that’s important, especially in the current climate of outsourcing. The results of this research will have important potential applications in a wide range of industries and products.”

This is not the first time that Yang has been supported by the National Science Foundation. She received both her master’s degree and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Stanford University under an NSF Graduate Fellowship.  Her mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree is from MIT, where she is also currently a member of the Mechanical Engineering Visiting Committee.  
In addition to her research, Yang teaches several courses in process design in the Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, including a graduate-level course on the management of engineering design teams. 
--Diane Ainsworth