New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Design in Engineering Education
Full engineering design experiences often require months to accomplish. In an effort to incorporate design and design thinking into curriculum without consuming extensive time, the use of shortened design experiences, which have been labeled “designettes”, has been undertaken. Designettes provide a partial design experience. The designette can do this by either removing certain parts of a full design process, or by shortening certain steps, or both. These designettes are often used in STEM classes to enhance motivation for the course’s content by showing applicability to a real-world problem. They can also be used to expose students, or practicing professionals, to the fundamentals of the design process. In some capstone courses, students may experience design process activities such as “Customer Needs Analysis”, “Functional Decomposition”, “Concept Generation”, “Concept Selection” and “Prototype Planning” for the first time. The designette allows students an initial experience with the design process that can provide a “learning scaffold” for their implementation of the full suite of design methods over the course of a longer project. For the last four years, we have implemented several versions of a designette in our two-semester capstone design sequence where project teams of 4-8 students are assigned to larger, externally sponsored design projects. In our uses of the designette, the suite of five design process activities mentioned above were taught in an abbreviated form. In the current research, the project focus of the designette was selected from one of two options: either a small, related portion of the larger project or the designette’s project was totally unrelated to the larger project. The advantage of the designette being a small part of the larger project is that the time spent on the designette is directly related to the project goals of that larger project. The advantage of having an unrelated designette is that the students feel freedom to take risks and focus on creativity and innovation because they do not experience the stress related to satisfying the sponsor that comes with the larger project. Also, a contrived design challenge can be selected that is closer to the right scope, and/or potentially more interesting, motivating, easier to prototype, and is familiar to students so it requires less background research. Faculty and student feedback was primarily used to characterize and compare the designette’s effectiveness. The current research shows that there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to having the designette project either related, or unrelated to the longer term, sponsored project. Those who implement designettes can use the detailed data provided in this research to determine which approach best matches their capstone program’s distinctive attributes and goals.
Cooper, C. A., & Anderson, M. L., & Jensen, D. D., & Fulton, J. M., & Wood, K. L. (2016, June), Designettes in Capstone: Characterizing the Impact of Early Design Experiences on Students' Capstone Education Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26692
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