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Creativity Meets No Bounds: Defeating The Myth Of The Cave

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Design Cognition

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.385.1 - 14.385.13



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Paper Authors

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Rogelio Cardona University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

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Ted Cruz University of Puerto Rico

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Noraica Davila University of Puerto Rico

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Omar Ferrer University of Puerto Rico

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Alexander Gonzalez University of Puerto Rico

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Ramon Gonzalez University of Puerto Rico

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Willie Gonzalez University of Puerto Rico

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Nelson Mendez University of Puerto Rico

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Damian Torres University of Puerto Rico

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José Vega University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Creativity Meets No Bounds: Defeating the Myth of the Cave


We are a team of nine highly and self-motivated undergraduate students and one professor trying to, and at times succeeding in, being inconspicuous. We are an interdisciplinary team from several areas of the Computer and Electrical Engineering programs at the University of Puerto Rico, exploring novel ideas of products that can become feasible projects for the capstone design course. The approach to our work contrasts with many conventional engineering education practices, which place emphasis on highly structured and formal procedures and solving problems proposed by faculty members or by industry partners. Although we still meet in the formal setting of a classroom and one research laboratory, the sessions differ significantly from regular classes, appearing more like creative meetings à la “Dick Van Dike Show” where restraints to ideas are lifted as far as possible until engineering and project management criteria are recalled to put our feet back on the ground. The undergraduate research course started with a presentation of creativity and innovation techniques from which students chose initially four of them: brainstorming, force field analysis, 5W/H questions and analogy/metaphor. Eleven ideas were initially proposed, ranging from an alarm clock for all types of sleepers to a virtual office. These creativity techniques were variedly used to enrich and analyze the ideas. Finally, and using an idea filtering technique invented by the team, which we refer to as the “survivor idea challenge”, the set was reduced to three projects ideas which we have coined as “My Guide”, “Smart Recycling System” and the “Turing Desk”. Despite the apparent informality, the team elaborated and carefully followed a work plan which by the end of this year will lead to deciding one project that additionally to be subject to realistic constraints, will also meet our own constraints of containing work for all the areas of the team members. This paper describes the approach, the experience of the team and the results achieved.

The Problem At Hand: Becoming an Effectively Creative Engineer

Attempting to define “engineer” as a verb yields a very interesting description: “skillfully or artfully arrange for (an event or situation) to occur”1. What is refreshing about the description is that it opens a door to the possibility of “engineering” to be some long lost form of art! This would contrast widely held notions about engineering being a technical science. Avoiding a philosophical discussion of whether engineering is an art or a science, we will take this definition for its face value. The fact that the word “artfully” is in the definition, should hint at the use of creativity within engineering. However, if we look into most engineering curricula, we will find no evidence of the use of creativity as a methodology for engineering education. Taking a view into our own campus (and extrapolating to any other ABET accredited university) the average undergraduate

Cardona, R., & Cruz, T., & Davila, N., & Ferrer, O., & Gonzalez, A., & Gonzalez, R., & Gonzalez, W., & Mendez, N., & Torres, D., & Vega, J. (2009, June), Creativity Meets No Bounds: Defeating The Myth Of The Cave Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5811

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