Ontology-Driven Semantic Annotations for Multiple Engineering Viewpoints in Computer Aided Design

  • Chun Li

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Engineering design involves a series of activities to handle data, including capturing and storing data, retrieval and manipulation of data. This also applies throughout the entire product lifecycle (PLC). Unfortunately, a closed loop of knowledge and information management system has not been implemented for the PLC. As part of product lifecycle management (PLM) approaches, computer-aided design (CAD) systems are extensively used from embodiment and detail design stages in mechanical engineering. However, current CAD systems lack the ability to handle semantically-rich information, thus to represent, manage and use knowledge among multidisciplinary engineers, and to integrate various tools/services with distributed data and knowledge.To address these challenges, a general-purpose semantic annotation approach based on CAD systems in the mechanical engineering domain is proposed, which contributes to knowledge management and reuse, data interoperability and tool integration. In present-day PLM systems, annotation approaches are currently embedded in software applications and use diverse data and anchor representations, making them static, inflexible and difficult to incorporate with external systems. This research will argue that it is possible to take a generalised approach to annotation with formal annotation content structures and anchoring mechanisms described using general-purpose ontologies. In this way viewpoint-oriented annotation may readily be captured, represented and incorporated into PLM systems together with existing annotations in a common framework, and the knowledge collected or generated from multiple engineering viewpoints may be reasoned with to derive additional knowledge to enable downstream processes. Therefore, knowledge can be propagated and evolved through the PLC. Within this framework, a knowledge modelling methodology has also been proposed for developing knowledge models in various situations.In addition, a prototype system has been designed and developed in order to evaluate the core contributions of this proposed concept. According to an evaluation plan, cost estimation and finite element analysis as case studies have been used to validate the usefulness, feasibility and generality of the proposed framework. Discussion has been carried out based on this evaluation. As a conclusion, the presented research work has met the original aim and objectives, and can be improved further. At the end, some research directions have been suggested.
Date of Award16 May 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChristopher McMahon (Supervisor) & Linda Newnes (Supervisor)


  • Ontology
  • semantics
  • annotation
  • computer-aided design
  • knowledge management

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