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An Approach to Multidisciplinary Design, Analysis & Optimization For Rapid Conceptual Design

Author: Atherton Carty

Abstract

Due to increased competition within the aerospace industry, simply meeting the minimum project requirements for a new design will no longer ensure a project win. In order to achieve mission success, emphasis must be placed on producing an optimum final product through an efficient, lean process. To achieve an optimum final product, MultiDisciplinary Design (MDD), MultiDisciplinary Analysis (MDA), and MultiDisciplinary Optimization (MDO) must be utilized from project inception. Traditionally, MDD, MDA, and MDO have been time intensive activities, whose limited implementation in the prototyping design process has added little benefit. If significant gains are to be made by employing MDD, MDA, and MDO in a prototyping environment, the time associated with their implementation must be reduced such that a sufficient number of trades can be performed to realize these gains.

In order to remain an industry leader in an increasing competitive aerospace marketplace theLockheed Martin Aeronautics Company’s Advanced Development Projects organization has employed Rapid Conceptual Design (RCD) methodology. The Rapid Conceptual Design group was formed and given the task of defining an RCD methodology and selecting, implementing, & evaluating software designed to facilitate the process of MDD and MDO. The group’s objective is to develop tools to facilitate integrated design analysis and optimization, resulting in a reduction in the cycle time associated with performing MDD, MDA, and MDO. Several commercial off the shelf (COTS) tools are available, to allow the integration of existing analysis codes and applications in a modular format, providing an efficient user environment for performing analyses.

The complete integration of MDD and MDO through the application of RCD has enabled the identification of optimal solutions that are counter intuitive and functions of multiple design disciplines. The intent of this paper is to discuss RCD methodology, its underlying tenants and operating principles, as well as examples of how it has been and how it is being implemented on multiple programs within ADP's "Skunk Works" organization.

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