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Enhanced Concept Selection for Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Design Tools & Methodology I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.614.1 - 22.614.11



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Paper Authors


John Farris Grand Valley State University

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John Farris is currently an associate Professor in the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). He earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees at Lehigh University and his Doctorate at the University of Rhode Island. He has 12 years of college engineering teaching experience as well as three years of industrial design experience. His teaching interests lie in the product design, first year design, design for manufacture and assembly and manufacturing processes. Dr. Farris is also involved in the development and delivery of a new graduate biomedical engineering masters degree with a focus on the medical device development

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Hugh Jack Grand Valley State University Orcid 16x16

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A Professor of Product Design and Manufacturing. His interests include Automation, Robotics, Project Management, and Design.

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Title: Enhanced Concept Selection for StudentsAbstract:Free-form problem solving is an important part of undergraduate studies. Open ended design isa particularly poignant activity for engineering students.The Pugh concept selection matrix is widely taught for design concept selection. The power ofthis method is that students may rapidly select design criteria and compare concepts to identifythe best options. During the application of the method the students must i) have a clear set ofconcepts, ii) have a clear set of evaluation criteria, iii) declare the relative importance of eachcriteria, iv) rate the concepts against the criteria, and v) then develop numerical scores/rankingsfor each design concept. When done objectively the results of this process can be very good,however when subjective bias is introduced the method falters. Typical procedural problemsthat students encounter are i) eliminate viable design concepts before using the matrix, ii)evaluation criteria are under- or over-stated, and iii) the relative weight is not appropriate.These problems arise from a number of factors including personal bias, a rush to finish, andmisunderstanding. While it is sometimes useful for students to experience constructive failure,it can be avoided by adding a few steps to the process to reduce the arbitrary nature of thedecisions.The authors will describe enhancements for the method that guide students during the conceptselection process. This will include i) the identification of constraints as opposed to objectives,ii) recognition of the concept risks , iii) methods to reduce concept risks, iv) the use of estimatesand calculations for design objectives, iii) guided criteria for selection criteria weights. Examplesof applications in student projects will be used to illustrate the method.

Farris, J., & Jack, H. (2011, June), Enhanced Concept Selection for Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17895

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