The Design Research Institute (DRI), a partnership of Xerox Corporation and Cornell University, brings computer and information science and high-performance computing technology to bear on problems of engineering design that are important to American industry. Research in DRI focuses on technologies for shortening the product development cycle, particularly for complex electro-opto-mechanical systems.
In DRI, Xerox scientists on campus collaborate with Cornell faculty and students in three broad areas: information capture and access, collaboration technology, and computational simulation of physical systems. Most of the research projects are not proprietary and are candidates for external funding and for participation by other companies.
Research in information capture and access involves pathways and repositories for engineering information, documents, and knowledge. This year saw the nationwide trial of a software program called "Dienst" for managing and providing World Wide Web access to collections of technical reports. Another success was the CoNote program for Web-based annotation of shared documents. Both Dienst and CoNote were developed jointly by DRI and the Department of Computer Science.
With ARPA support, DRI is developing software that provides interoperability of heterogeneous databases to support concurrent engineering. A central part of this work is the development of a Metadata Dictionary, a repository of schema descriptions used by automatic data translators. With the Cornell Theory Center, DRI is exploring access to very large scientific and engineering databases. One application of such database technology will be for archives of design documents that go far beyond traditional engineering specifications to include decision rationale, supporting laboratory data, process and life-cycle planning, and all other information supporting a product design.
DRI research in collaboration technology is focused in a joint project with Digital Equipment Corporation called "LARC". LARC is developing information capture and sharing technologies to support engineering research while simultaneously optimizing the laboratory and office settings in which the information is generated. Working closely with an advanced technology group in the Xerox Wilson Center for Research and Technology, this year the LARC team deployed a LARC Project Center featuring automatic collection and posting of data and news on Xerox Liveboards for instant group access and discussion. A similar system is being deployed in the Design Studio of the Future in the Cornell Center for Manufacturing Enterprise.
Computational simulation research is focused on silicon micro-electro-mechanical structures such as those used in thermal ink-jet printing nozzles. Analyzing such systems by computer instead of by building hardware prototypes greatly reduces design time. Of special interest is developing World Wide Web access to simulations executed on parallel supercomputers in the Theory Center.
With industry scientists engaged in collaborative research on campus, the Design Research Institute brings an awareness of the needs of industry to Cornell, facilitates the transfer and use of research results, and enhances the access of new graduates to career opportunities in industry.
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