Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Guest Speaker


Function: Some Different Meaning for a core concept in design.


Dr. Nathan Crilly


University of Cambridge


Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 1:30:00 PM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Roger Jiao


Concepts of function occupy a central yet curious position in the study and practice of design. On the one hand, it is seemingly easy to state what the function of something is, and such statements are often freely made about existing or imagined objects. On the other hand, the meaning of function is very difficult to pin down and a great many definitions and interpretations have been offered, across a broad range of literatures. In this talk I will explore the meaning of function statements by considering the alternatives from which such statements have been selected. This has implications for what we think functions are and how we represent and reason about them.


Dr Nathan Crilly is a Lecturer in Engineering Design at the University of Cambridge. His research interests are in the areas of design, technology and communication. He employs an interdisciplinary approach to studying how artefacts (e.g. products, systems or services) are developed, the properties they exhibit and the ways in which people respond to them. Nathan is a Fellow in Engineering at Clare College, Cambridge. He is a member of the Design Research Society and The Design Society. He also serves on the International Editorial Board of Design Studies.