Breakthrough technologies: principle feasibility debates

DS 87-2 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 2: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Hein, Andreas Makoto; Jankovic, Marija; Condat, Hélčne
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: CentraleSupélec, Université Paris Saclay, France; 2: Initiative for Interstellar Studies, United Kingdom
Section: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management
Page(s): 477-486


Designing new technologies involves creating something that did not exist before. In particular, designing technologies with a low degree of maturity usually involves an assessment of its feasibility or infeasibility. Assessing the feasibility of a technology is of vital importance in many domains such as technology management and policy. Despite its importance, few publications actually deal with the fundamentals of technological feasibility such as feasibility proofs or proposing different feasibility categories. This paper addresses this gap by reviewing the existing literature on the feasibility of low-maturity technologies, proposes a framework for assessing feasibility issues, and reconstructs past and ongoing feasibility debates of four exemplary technologies. For the four technologies analysed, we conclude that sufficient expected performance is a key feasibility criteria to all cases, whereas physical effects and working principles were issues for more speculative technologies. For future work, we propose the further development of feasibility categories for different technologies of different degrees of maturity.

Keywords: Systems Engineering (SE), Technology, Conceptual design, Early design phases, Uncertainty


Please sign in to your account

This site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to assist with navigation and your ability to provide feedback, analyse your use of our products and services, assist with our promotional and marketing efforts, and provide content from third parties. Privacy Policy.