Katie Whitefoot: Improving the Adoption of New Products in the Marketplace

My research group focuses in on how we can
improve the adoption of new products and technologies by the marketplace, particularly for innovations
that improve energy efficiency or productivity. We do this by focusing in on three major areas. The first is the consumer choice. So, understanding how we can better estimate
and predict consumer choices of different products. The second area is understanding how particular
innovations affect manufacturing and supply chains, and then the resulting implications
for cost, environmental impacts, and the workforce. And the last area is improving the design
methods that are available to help engineers understand particularly key product characteristics
that influence how well the product will be adopted by the marketplace. One area that we’re working on currently
is looking at the adoption of additively manufactured parts for aircraft, as far as the influence
on total life cycle cost and also their potential to lightweight the aircraft and therefore
cut down on fuel requirements. Another area that we’re working on is the
automotive industry, looking at how fuel economy regulations influence the types of vehicles
that automakers offer, and how the regulations can be adjusted to improve fuel economy while
reducing cost to consumers and producers. Much of our research is immediately applicable
to policymakers that are creating energy efficiency regulations, and also to companies that are
interested in optimizing their products or processes in response to technological changes
and also changes in regulations. In addition to understanding how a particular
product’s design influences its performance, it’s really important for engineers to also
understand how the product’s design influences the likelihood that people are going to purchase
it and use it in the marketplace.

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