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Cultural Influences In Design

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Engineering Education; An International Perspective

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.351.1 - 8.351.9



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Paper Authors

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Richard Bannerot

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

Session 2560

Cultural Influences in Design

Jean-Luc Herbeaux, Richard Bannerot

RohMax Additives GmbH / University of Houston


A short design project was given concurrently to sophomore engineering students at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology (Ishikawa, Japan) and at the University of Houston (Texas, USA) as part of the first engineering design course taken in both curricula. Students were asked to design and build at least one low-cost device whose main purpose was to support a set of chopsticks while not in use. The project was introduced in the first week of the Japanese and US design classes with minimal guidance from the instructors to provide the engineers-to-be with a first experience in design. The (intentional) lack of technological challenge did not necessarily mean that the project was easy as each student population had to face its own challenges. The product to be designed, while foreign and mostly unknown to the US students, is very well known and deeply traditional in Japan. In general, the US students attempted to design devices with more than one function. Predictably, some of the US projects resulted in products, which despite their originality and functionality, were unsuitable for the Asian market as they violated some of the traditional cultural values of Asia. In the Japanese projects, the originality did not appear at the function level but in the way esthetics and recycle-ability were treated. Work samples submitted by both student groups are described and evaluated in this paper. Design trends are commented upon and analyzed in light of the cultural and behavioral characteristics of the two groups.


The world’s economy and industries are becoming increasingly global. But it spite of the globalization efforts in economic, industrial, and financial circles, engineering instructors rarely implement international collaborative efforts in teaching and seldom know how programs operate in foreign countries. Of course, many institutions offer selected students opportunities to study or even work abroad, but these international experiences rarely benefit the entire student body. International collaborative experiences in teaching can be beneficial to both instructors and students. They may acquaint instructors with new teaching tools and methods, provide valuable data regarding differences between student populations and eventually provide answers on discrepancies between engineers’ behaviors and competitiveness in the workplace. Students would undoubtedly benefit from such experiences by widening their understanding of foreign countries and associated cultures. The acquisition of such knowledge is particularly important in Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Bannerot, R. (2003, June), Cultural Influences In Design Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12434

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