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Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE)

From 1989 to 2001, I worked in the area of "knowledge based engineering" (KBE). During that time I held a number of different titles as the ICAD product went through 4 different business reorganizations. This page is a bit of history about ICAD.

KBE (as defined at ICAD) is the application of knowledge-based systems in mechanical design.

The key difference between "Computer Aided Design" [CAD] and "Knowledge Based Engineering" [KBE] is focus: CAD systems focus on geometry. KBE systems focus on rule capture and knowledge, with geometry merely being one of many kinds of rules and outputs that can be generated.

History: KBE started as a collaboration between Larry Rosenfeld (formerly from Computervision) and Pat O'Keefe, a researcher at MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, sometime in 1983 or 1984. ICAD was formed to sell the product commercially. The company went public and became Concentra in 1995. In 1998, the ICAD product line was 'taken private' to form Knowledge Technologies International. Over this period, the ICAD product was enhanced and grew. I moved to California in 1996 for personal reasons, and stayed with the ICAD product. I've been chief engineer [or a similar title] for the ICAD product since 1992.

Definition: I often give two definitions for KBE:

  • A mechanical engineer benefits from KBE since it allows capturing of engineering rules and design practices in a way that facilitates easy creation of a family of parts. At an aerospace company, these savings can be huge, such as reducing 700 days of CAD engineering to be 7 hours of computer time.
  • To a software developer, KBE means writing a "program" [engineering knowledge captured using the ICAD language] where the goal of the program is to solve engineering problems, and incidentally create geometry for a CAD system. Because ICAD is a full programming language, all kinds of complex computations can be done, many of which are simply not possible within a CAD system.

In its most broad definition, KBE includes mechanical parts that "design themselves" to work with the necessary parameters to meet a particular set of engineering constraints and engineering rules. The biggest successes of ICAD have been in creating "KBE applications" for designing a family of parts. Such applications have had very high ROI in aerospace and automotive design.

My work: I was in a leadership role at ICAD from 1993 to 2001 when I was part of the 30% laid off. During that time, my work was a mixture of strategy, system design and coaching developers, as well an implementation both of prototypes and complete modules. My resume has a more detailed description.