June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.279.1 - 14.279.12
Bio-Engineering Process Maps: Elements Used to Produce Innovative Designs and Prototypes This paper describes initial results from an ongoing study on how bio-engineering teams create innovative product designs as part of a larger NSF sponsored project. Specifically, it documents progress on a descriptive study of two groups of bio-engineering “inventors” – senior capstone bio-engineering teams and teams who entered the BME-Idea competition using process maps as a method of comparison. During the 2007-08 academic year nine bio-engineering teams from the University of Pittsburgh volunteered to develop process maps describing their capstone project. Utilizing the same approach, 27 process maps were collected from student entrants of the BME-Idea competition.
Each team’s map describes the particular design process it followed that resulted in a working prototype. To assure consistency, each team used a comprehensive set of product development elements (developed from an earlier study) to describe their process. The teams were asked to first select those elements/activities that they actually used in their process and then arrange them temporally to reflect the team’s design and product development process. The resultant maps were then analyzed through a series of comparisons between the two sets of design teams. Both groups were compared relative to their utilization of the elements, and which elements they had classified as being critical, time-consuming and/or problematic to the design process. Following this comparison, a path analysis was conducted to determine if teams approached process design activities in a similar manner. We provide a description of the overall approach, our analysis and results; and suggest how process maps might be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the overall design artifact in meeting its design specifications and purpose.
1.0 Introduction In this paper we provide an initial descriptive study of how different teams of bioengineering “inventors” navigate the design process from idea conception to prototype. Nine bioengineering capstone teams from the Swanson School of Engineering Department of Bioengineering and 27 teams from throughout the U.S. who entered the BME-Idea national competition each reflected upon and diagramed their experiences via process maps that captured their engineering design and product development activities. Although many of the BME-Idea projects also resulted from bioengineering capstone projects, several others were either NCIIA funded “e-teams,” or were graduate bio-engineering students. Hence, the two groups were kept separate. Here, we investigate several research questions associated with engineering design and product development and their potential implications for engineering education. Specifically, do bioengineering design teams utilize similar activities when developing their designs/prototypes or is the process specific to the particular design? As a follow on, do teams utilize similar paths when creating their designs/prototypes and is this indicative of design instruction at their particular institution? Further, and potentially more important, do certain activities and/or process paths relate to the overall quality (or rating) of the design?
The 2007 – 08 bioengineering teams who developed a design/prototype were asked to reflect upon and explain their experiences by developing a concept or process map.1-2 The use of process maps allows teams to not only show the relative importance of the various elements in their process, but also to clearly indicate the relationships among these elements. This process
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