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Case Studies of Problem Exploration Processes in Engineering Design

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

The Best in DEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count

36

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28016

Download Count

16

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Paper Authors

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Jaryn Studer Iowa State University

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Jaryn Studer is a Graduate Research Assistant at Iowa State University pursuing her M.S. in Human Computer Interaction. She received her B.S. in Industrial Engineering at West Virginia University. Her research interests include design and strategies to develop creative thinking.

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Shanna R. Daly University of Michigan Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-4698-2973

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Shanna Daly is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. She has a B.E. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton (2003) and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University (2008). Her research focuses on strategies for design innovations through divergent and convergent thinking as well as through deep needs and community assessments using design ethnography, and translating those strategies to design tools and education. She teaches design and entrepreneurship courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, focusing on front-end design processes.

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Jaclyn Kuspiel Murray University of Michigan Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4374-3683

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Jaclyn K. Murray is a Research Fellow at the University of Michigan in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Her interests include design, creativity, spatial skill development, and epistemic agency formation across STEM fields.

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Seda McKilligan Iowa State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-7446-3380

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Dr. McKilligan is an Associate Professor of Industrial Design. She teaches design studios and lecture courses on developing creativity and research skills. Her current research focuses on identifying impacts of different factors on ideation of designers and engineers, developing instructional materials for design ideation, and foundations of innovation. She often conducts workshops on design thinking to a diverse range of groups including student and professional engineers and faculty member from different universities. She received her PhD degree in Design Science in 2010 from University of Michigan. She is also a faculty in Human Computer Interaction Graduate Program and the ISU Site Co-Director for Center for e-Design.

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Colleen M. Seifert University of Michigan

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Colleen M. Seifert is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. She received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and psychology at Yale University. She was an ASEE postdoctoral fellow at the University of California – San Diego and the Navy Personnel Research Development Center. Her research interests center on learning, memory, and creativity.

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Abstract

Case Studies of Problem Exploration Processes in Engineering Design

Looking beyond the provided or presented problem can allow new perspectives on the problem to emerge, opening up the possibility of different solutions. Little research has been performed to study how engineering designers engage in this process, called problem exploration. Through studies of cognitive strategies used to structure and frame problems in different ways, empirically-based design tools can be developed to support these practices by a broader group of engineering designers.

Thus, our study investigated the cognitive processes engineers use to explore and define problems. Using a think-aloud protocol approach, five mechanical engineering students at the senior undergraduate and graduate levels were asked to develop conceptual solutions for two different engineering design problems. Following each think-aloud session, the students participated in a retrospective interview where they were asked a series of questions exploring their perceptions of the presented problem, how they reframed the problem, and their awareness of their own methods of problem exploration. The goal of our work was to characterize ways the engineering students explored design problems and how different perspectives on the problem related to their proposed solutions.

In this paper, we present an in-depth analysis of the engineering student designer protocols to identify a set of strategies they used to take on different perspectives to the problem. The protocols and retrospective interviews revealed varied use of problem exploration strategies. We present each strategy used and provide examples of ways the strategy was applied to take on a new perspective to the problem, and also how that perspective led to solutions proposed. We also suggest ways to incorporate these strategies in engineering design pedagogy to improve students’ problem exploration processes.

Studer, J., & Daly, S. R., & Murray, J. K., & McKilligan, S., & Seifert, C. M. (2017, June), Case Studies of Problem Exploration Processes in Engineering Design Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28016

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