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A Comparison of Design Education Across Two Fields: Lessons from Industrial Design and Mechanical Engineering

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Design Across Disciplines

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.25.1 - 22.25.11



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Paper Authors


William Besser University of Saint Thomas

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William Besser is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, MN with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Business Management. His academic interests include design, design processes and design thinking, multidisciplinary collaboration, consumer behavior and organizational behavior. William is currently working as a product design engineer for a medical device company.

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AnnMarie Thomas University of Saint Thomas

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AnnMarie Thomas is an assistant professor of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas, and co-director of the UST Center for Pre-Collegiate Engineering Education. Her teaching and research focus on Engineering Design and K-12 Engineering Education. Prior to her appointment at UST, she was a faculty member at Art Center College of Design.

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A Comparison of Design Education Across Two Fields: Lessons from Industrial Design EducationA call has been made by governing bodies, including the National Academy of Sciences, andindustry to put a greater emphasis on design education and creativity in undergraduatemechanical engineering programs. As engineering is not the only field in which design istaught, it is likely that there is much to be learned about design education by looking at howother disciplines teach design. Industrial design and product design programs are a fruitful placeto look for inspiration as they typically incorporate some engineering content into their curricula,yet remain heavily focused on other aspects of design as well. We believe that engineeringeducation could incorporate some industrial and product design content in their curricula, whilestill remaining heavily focused on the engineering fundamentals.The goal of this paper is to summarize the current status of the field in regard to how and why,techniques commonly used in the discipline of industrial (product) design could be utilized bymechanical engineering educators. We will present an overview of trends in design education inboth engineering and industrial design programs. We will then identify a number of techniques,both content and pedagogical, that warrant closer attention from engineering educators, withhopes of showing that engineering education could indeed benefit from the integration ofindustrial and product design techniques.

Besser, W., & Thomas, A. (2011, June), A Comparison of Design Education Across Two Fields: Lessons from Industrial Design and Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17307

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