The East-West International Conference Information Technology in Design (EWITD'94)

The East-West International Conference Information Technology in Design (EWITD'94) was organized by George Rzevski and Anthony Lucas-Smith at The Open University, UK and Alexander Sorokin and Sergei Orekhov at the International Centre for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI), Moscow, Russia. The conference took place 5-9 September 1994 in Moscow and featured approximately 75 talks. Fifty percent of the talks were presented by Russians, with the remainder presented by researchers and practitioners from countries such as the UK, Holland, Scandinavia, Germany, Japan, and the USA.

The Russian presentations primarily focused on mathematical models and algorithms developed to solve computational problems in engineering design, such as using genetic algorithms to solve scheduling and allocation problems in computer-aided design (CAD) hardware. In comparison, talks from the West primarily focused on organizational, cognitive, and social issues in engineering design. Interesting papers included Informing multimedia - a sensitive interface to data for design professionals by J.A. Powell, Computer integrated support for embodiment design of mechatronic products by X.T. Yan, et al., and Analysis in the conceptual stage of design by C. Kruger.

I presented a paper titled Supporting knowledge exploration during the design process which discusses how design team members explore and integrate knowledge from different domains during the design process and how information technology could support this process. All conference papers are available in the two volume conference proceedings published by the ICSTI, 21-b Kuusinen St., 125252, Moscow, Russia.

Interacting with several Russian participants through the use of interpreters, I learned that Russian researchers have traditionally been rewarded for their ability to produce mathematical theories and algorithms. Researchers and engineers often work in isolation to restrict information exchange and increase security.

This conference represented a first attempt to begin to bridge gaps between east and west design research and practice. To further this effort at the close of the conference Russian authorities pledged support to East-West collaborations; if there is funding from the West to support western researchers, funding to support Russian researchers will also be made available by Russian funding committees. A second EWITD conference is being planned for 1996.

Diane H. Sonnenwald
Risoe National Laboratory
DK-4000 Roskilde