Purao receives Pioneer Award for contributions to design science

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Purao receives Pioneer Award for contributions to design science

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Design science -- the creation of novel technology artifacts and their embedding in our physical, economic and social environment -- has been gaining recognition as a distinct field in recent years. Sandeep Purao, a professor at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), has played a leading role in advancing the field of study, and was recently recognized for his pioneering role in the field at a major design science conference.

“Design science creates possibilities for new worlds, and treats that effort as a scientific activity,” Purao said.

Purao, whose research focuses on the design, evolution and management of complex techno-organizational systems, received the Pioneer Award for Contributions to Design Science at the Design Science Research in Information Systems and Technologies 2014 Conference (DESRIST 2014) that was held May 22-23 in Miami, Fla. The theme of the conference was "Advancing the Impact of Design Science: Moving from Theory to Practice."

Purao’s award is in recognition of his body of work in the past 10 years in relation to design science. According to tributes received during the award ceremony at the conference, Purao has made “foundational contributions to understand and define what design science is.”

“Design science is the idea that you can treat the act of design as a scientific act,” he said. “For many disciplines and researchers, this is a controversial idea.”

Although design has been studied for many decades, Purao said, this form of design science has existed as a field for about 10 years. In that time, he has compiled a substantial body of research with a goal of elaborating the field.

At the DESRIST 2014 conference, a number of his works were cited, including “Truth or Dare,” and “Action Design Research.” In the former, Purao argues that “science is not only about data about past events, but it can also be about daring to change the world; and lays out the key assumptions.” In the other paper, he argues that design cannot take place out of context, but rather needs to recognize the roles of different stakeholders and partner with them to bring about novel ensembles of technology artifacts and work practices.

“Unlike previous efforts, which have studied the act of design, design science attempts to position design as what researchers do, and in that sense, it is a new field,” Purao said.

The College of IST has responded to the emergence of design science by offering courses in the field, he said. A doctoral seminar for design science research was offered in 2013 for the first time, and is slated to be offered again this year.

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