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Analogy Seeded Mind-Maps: A Simple and Quick Design-by-Analogy Method

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Idea Generation and Creativity in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.208.1 - 26.208.14



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Paper Authors


K. Scott Marshall II The University of Texas at Austin

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Scott Marshall is a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin conducting research on Design Methodologies with a focus on directed Design-by-Analogy techniques.

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Richard H. Crawford University of Texas, Austin

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Dr. Richard H. Crawford is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and is the Temple Foundation Endowed Faculty Fellow No. 3. He is also Director of the Design Projects program in Mechanical Engineering. He received his BSME from Louisiana State University in 1982, and his MSME in 1985 and Ph.D. in 1989, both from Purdue University. He teaches mechanical engineering design and geometry modeling for design. Dr. Crawford’s research interests span topics in computer-aided mechanical design and design theory and methodology. Dr. Crawford is co-founder of the DTEACh program, a ”Design Technology” program for K-12, and is active on the faculty of the UTeachEngineering program that seeks to educate teachers of high school engineering.

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Daniel D. Jensen U.S. Air Force Academy

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Dr. Dan Jensen is a Professor of Engineering Mechanics at the U.S. Air Force Academy where he has been since 1997. He received his B.S. (Mechanical Engineering), M.S. (Applied Mechanics) and Ph.D. (Aerospace Engineering Science) from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has worked for Texas Instruments, Lockheed Martin, NASA, University of the Pacific, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and MSC Software Corp. His research includes design of Micro Air Vehicles, development of innovative design methodologies and enhancement of engineering education. Dr Jensen has authored over 100 refereed papers and has been awarded over $4 million of research grants.

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Analogy Seeded Mind-Maps: A Simple and Quick Design-by-Analogy Method Recent research has investigated methods based on design-by-analogy meant to enhanceconcept generation. While some of these methods are promising, they can be cumbersome anddifficult to apply in the engineering classroom. This paper presents Analogy Seeded Mind-Maps,a new method to prompt generation of analogous solution principles drawn from multipleanalogical domains. The method begins with identifying a primary functional design requirementsuch as “eject part.” We then use this functional requirement “seed” to generate a WordTree,which is a graph of grammatically analogical synonyms. We randomly select a set of 10-15words from each WordTree list and use the resulting word list to populate the first-level nodes ofa mind-map, with the functional requirement seed as the central hub. The word list and resultingmind-map then serve as visual tools that are utilized during the concept generation process. Theeffectiveness of the tool in generating concepts was evaluated in a number of separate studiesutilizing student design teams working on a wide variety of projects in both a military academyand a large public research university setting. In our evaluation of the method, designers firstused the word list (10-15 words from WordTree) to individually generate solutions and thenperformed team concept generation using the analogically seeded mind-map. The total quantityof concepts and the number of unique concepts generated were measured. It was found that theAnalogy Seeded Mind-Map method allowed students to generate a large number of concepts in arelatively short amount of time with only brief introduction and explanation of the method.

Marshall, K. S., & Crawford, R. H., & Jensen, D. D. (2015, June), Analogy Seeded Mind-Maps: A Simple and Quick Design-by-Analogy Method Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23547

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