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Fostering Creativity In The Capstone Engineering Design Experience

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Innovations for the Senior Year of the ME Curriculum

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.757.1 - 12.757.10



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Paper Authors


Elvin Shields Youngstown State University

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Dr. Elvin Shields is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. His research has been generously sponsored by a University Research Professorship during the 2005-2006 academic year at Youngstown State University. Since 1995, Dr. Shields has coached approximately 250 mechanical engineering students through nearly 90 capstone design projects ranging from collegiate competitions to industrial problems.

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

Fostering Creativity in the Capstone Engineering Design Experience


Can creativity be fostered during the capstone engineering design experience? What promotes the creativity of undergraduate seniors in mechanical engineering? The ideal venue to answer these questions is Youngstown State University’s mandatory capstone design course sequence of two semesters, the goal of which is to prepare senior engineering students to become project leaders in industry. The capstone sequence includes a combination of lectures, case studies, visiting speakers, and team projects. Oral presentations and written reports promote the required communication skills for project leadership. Expectantly, improving creativity skills in project leaders will impact future engineering designs.

This capstone design class consisted of nine student design teams that synthesized, analyzed, manufactured, tested, and evaluated various projects for industry and other clients. Aspects of TRIZ, a Russian acronym for the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, were incorporated into the existing capstone design instruction. The emphasis was on encouraging the students to think creatively using convergent methodology. Many real-world problems encompass multiple fields of engineering science involving open-ended problems and various possible solutions. The capstone design experience utilizes team projects to solve real-world problems through the application of TRIZ. Fostering creativity helps students to think in broader terms and enables them to become more innovative in finding solutions.

This research has two objectives: 1) to study the teaching of creativity in the capstone design experience and 2) to assess the effectiveness of the creativity instruction with pre-tests and post- tests using the Torrance12,13 Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) for adults. The results of the first year of this three year, outcome-oriented, process study are presented and discussed in this work.


ABET = Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology AP = Academic Performance Nat’l %ile = National Percentile SD = Standard Deviation of data points TRIZ = Teoriya Resheniya Izobreatatelskikh Zadatch TTCT = Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking


Barak2 states “The challenge in education is to find an optimal combination and balance between fostering activity based on openness and ‘disorder’, on the one hand, and imparting systematic methods for innovative thinking and problem-solving, on the other.” He presents a case study for the design and manufacture of hand tools. In this study, plant workers were trained in Systematic Innovative Thinking (SIT) and he credits this training with the development of new

Shields, E. (2007, June), Fostering Creativity In The Capstone Engineering Design Experience Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1499

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