June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Design in Engineering Education
24.114.1 - 24.114.14
Benchmarking in Design Projects: Lessons Learned from a Sophomore Design CourseThis paper presents some of the lessons learned from a sophomore design course offered at oneof the major universities in the United States. This course is developed to provide realisticdesign, machining and mechatronics experiences to mechanical engineering sophomores. As apart of this course, the students are required to generate ideas for solving a real-life designproblem. The objective of this study is to identify the influences of benchmarking products onthe final concepts generated by student designers. Literature shows that designers, while solvingopen-ended design problems, tend to copy features from any examples available to them, aphenomenon known as “design fixation.” This paper studies the benchmarking products andtheir effect on student-generated designs for a cake transportation problem. The challenge is todevise a method to safely transport large cakes from a bakery to the location of their final use.The design process includes customer needs understanding, researching on existing designs,quality function deployment, functional decomposition, concept generation and the selection of afinal design. At the end of the project, the students are required to present a final design and fouralternate feasible concepts. Students work on this project as teams of three or four. For thisparticular design problem, there is a finite set of existing products that the students canbenchmark and these products possess their own disadvantages, necessitating a new design. Forthe purpose of this study, the final reports from 50 design teams are collected and analyzed forthe presence of features from the benchmarking products. The working principles of the conceptsare identified and then they are broken down to the level of individual features. These principlesand features are compared against those from the benchmarking products. It is observed thatwhile many teams identified and used the abstract working principles of the benchmarkingproducts, many of them also copied the surface features in their designs. While fixation to theabstract working principles of the benchmarking products can lead to working designs, it hindersthe generation of alternate design concepts. In many cases, students restricted their solutions tothe variations of the benchmarking products instead of exploring the solution-space any further.The fixation to surface features often leads to unnecessary design features in the final concepts,which may lead to added cost for the product. This shows that current engineering designcurricula needs to provide additional guidance to students so that they can avoid fixation to thoseproducts. The paper also summarizes some suggestions to teach design courses while avoidingfixation to the benchmarking products.
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015