Asee peer logo

From Brainstorming To C Sketch To Principles Of Historical Innovators: Ideation Techniques To Enhance Student Creativity

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Creativity and Innovation in Engineering Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.602.1 - 15.602.22

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Christina White Columbia University

author page

Austin Talley University of Texas, Austin

author page

Daniel Jensen United States Air Force Academy

author page

Kristin Wood George Washington University

author page

Andy Szmerekovsky US Air Force Academy

author page

Richard Crawford University of Texas at Austin

Download Paper |

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

From Brainstorming to C-Sketch to Principles of Historical Innovators: Ideation Techniques to Enhance Student Creativity Abstract

The heart and soul of engineering is innovation and our ability to improve the human condition through design. To enrich engineering education, it critical that we advance our teaching in innovation and design processes. This research focuses on the ideation component of innovation through the investigation of a suite of concept generation techniques. These techniques have been developed for engineering education across disciplines and at all levels of curriculum. In this paper, we advance our suite of techniques through the evolution of a method known as “principles of historical innovators.” Based on the deployment of the techniques, including the evolved method, at the freshman- and senior-levels, we execute a study to understand if the suite of techniques enables students to generate a large quantity of diverse concepts and if the suite enhances the creativity of the students. Our approach is to pre-survey students regarding a self- assessment of their creativity using Gouge’s list of creativity descriptors. A control and experimental group of student design teams across disciplines and class level are then asked to develop as many concepts as possible for their course design projects. The control group only executes a single and well-known method from the suite of concept generation techniques, whereas the experimental group employs the entire suite of techniques. The total number of concepts developed by the teams is evaluated, documenting the number of concepts per ideation technique. The teams are also asked to complete a post-creativity survey. The assessment results from this study show a clear and statistically valid enhancement of the students’ creativity, a higher quantity of concepts generated from the suite of techniques, and appreciation of atypical techniques such the “principles of historical innovators.”

Motivation and Research Objectives Innovation and creativity in design are key outcomes for engineering students in our increasingly flat and connected world. The concept generation (CG) step in the design process presents tremendous and unique opportunities for enhancing creativity in students. A variety of techniques specifically to enrich the CG or ideation process inform our research. Based on those influential ideation techniques, as well as original work we have conducted in this area, we have developed a suite of CG techniques to assist in the design projects [1]. The techniques include mindmapping, a modified 6-3-5 or C-Sketch technique, functional decomposition combined with morphological analysis, Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TIPS/TRIZ), a method to produce products with the ability to transform or reconfigure, a search for cross-domain or far-field analogies, implementation of creativity principles from historical innovators, and a design by analogy technique using a WordNet-based search procedure [2-9,11-12,33]. Figure 1 illustrates the suite of concept generation methods as a distributed collage. The fundamental premise of this suite is to enable designers to develop innovative concepts well beyond those that they would have created through ad hoc or singular, intuitive concept generation techniques. Through a suite of techniques, fixation, group think, and other cognitive barriers may be mitigated, we surmise, leading to an enhanced ability to ideate.

White, C., & Talley, A., & Jensen, D., & Wood, K., & Szmerekovsky, A., & Crawford, R. (2010, June), From Brainstorming To C Sketch To Principles Of Historical Innovators: Ideation Techniques To Enhance Student Creativity Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015