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Implications of Contextual Empathic Design for Engineering Education

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Student Empathy and Human-Centered Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count

18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30626

Download Count

37

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Paper Authors

biography

Benedikt von Unold Stanford University

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Benedikt studied Medical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). In 2017, he joined the Designing Education Lab at Stanford University to learn more about the integration of user backgrounds in design. He was involved in various entrepreneurial activities and worked as a student in small, medium and large companies. The creation of innovation was both an essential part in his studies as it was in his jobs.

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Annette Isabel Böhmer Laboratory for Product Development and Lightweight Design

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Annette Böhmer studied Mechanical Engineering at Technical University of Munich (TUM). Currently she is about to finish her PhD in Agile Innovation of Mechatronic Systems. She co-founded Think.Make.Start., which is a lecture at TUM, that already created ~10 startups (eg. Hawa Dawa, Kewazo, Solos mirrors). This so-called Makeathon format was evaluated at BMW Group with ~250 employees that convinced top management with their working prototypes, created in just 5 days. Besides she benefit of a scholarship "Manage&More" at UnternehmerTUM, the Center for Innovation and Business Creation at TUM.

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Tua A. Björklund Aalto University Design Factory

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Tua Björklund is one of the co-founders and the head of research at Aalto University Design Factory. She conducts and leads research, teaches product design, and facilitates development at the Design Factory. Tua has a DSc degree in industrial engineering and management and a MA degree in cognitive science.

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Nicolas Ledl Stanford University

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Nicolas first studied mechanical engineering and then management at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). In 2018, he joined the Design Education Lab at Stanford University to continue Benedikt von Unold's work on Contextual Empathic Design. He gathered his core competencies in product development in the Rapid Prototyping Laboratory of BMW, in the Nanotech-Startup tilibit where he developed application scenarios for future products and during his master studies which he focused on innovation and entrepreneurship.

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Udo Lindemann Laboratory for Product Development and Lightweight Design

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Udo Lindemann started 1968 to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Hannover with a main focus on thermal process engineering. After graduation, he continued at the university as a research associate of Prof. Klaus Ehrlenspiel. The research focuses were cost driven product development and systems engineering. He finalised his dissertation in 1979 at the Technical University Munich.

In the years to follow, he held leading positions at Renk AG, Augsburg, in divisions such as mechanical engineering design and product development. Within Renk he was involved in the business of gears boxes, transmissions and test equipment. In 1992 he became CEO of MAN Miller Druckmaschinen GmbH and was responsible for production, logistics, quality, services, personal and factory planning. He also was responsible for a certain product range of the parent company MAN Roland AG.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. U. Lindemann succeeded Professor Ehrlenspiel in 1995 as head of the Institute of Product Development at the Technical University of Munich.
Within the time since 1995 until today he served as Dean for Study Affairs and as Dean of the Faculty Mechanical Engineering. Today he is a member of the Academic Senate of the Technical University Munich.

He is co-publishers of the German journal "Konstruktion" and co-editor of several international journals. Since the initiation of the Design Society, he has been an active member, from 2007 to 2010 he served as its President. In addition he is an active member of a number of scientific societies and other organisations. 2008 he became a member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering.

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George Toye Stanford University

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George Toye has been professional engineer, designer, researcher, consultant, entrepreneur, manager, and executive. Having worked on a diverse range of projects ranging from nuclear power plant control systems to digital libraries, he is a self-professed technology junkie — a perpetual misfit who enjoys mixing it up. In mechanical engineering circles, he is often labeled the "information technology" guy; amongst computer science folks, he is the "computer hardware" person; or to electrical engineers, he is the "mechanical" person. More often than not, he is simply one with a holistic systems perspective.

At Stanford, George has been senior research associate, associate director at Stanford Center for Design Research, and associate director of technology at Stanford Learning Lab.

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Sheri Sheppard Stanford University

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Sheri D. Sheppard, Ph.D., P.E., is professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design and education related classes at Stanford University, she conducts research on engineering education and work-practices, and applied finite element analysis. From 1999-2008 she served as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, leading the Foundation’s engineering study (as reported in Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field). In addition, in 2011 Dr. Sheppard was named as co-PI of a national NSF innovation center (Epicenter), and leads an NSF program at Stanford on summer research experiences for high school teachers. Her industry experiences includes engineering positions at Detroit's "Big Three:" Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Chrysler Corporation.

At Stanford she has served a chair of the faculty senate, and recently served as Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

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Abstract

This research paper describes the results of a study exploring how user backgrounds can systematically be considered in design activities and how this can be used to enhance engineering design courses. In human-centered engineering design, understanding what users desire and need is key for creating innovative solutions. Uncovering insights of users is needed as a backbone to provide the best possible solution for real customer needs. In this process, it is important to consider the background of users such as their culture, gender, education, or socio- economic class. Indeed, many project-based engineering design courses have been developed over the years to explicitly address user needs. However, little is known on how influential these exercises are on the subsequent design decisions. In order to move towards evidence-based education, we need to be able to understand the impact of these exercises to improve students’ ability to consider user backgrounds. This study is based on a multiple case study of eleven student projects sampled within the past four years of a master's level engineering design course spanning three quarters. First, mid- and end-of project reports ranging from 50 to 250 pages were coded from seven projects, chosen after a teaching team session in which the projects were ranked. Four high-performing and three low-performing projects, in which people were seen highly pertinent to the design brief, were chosen for the analysis. A systematic comparison of the methods and strategies reported in each project was performed. Second, four ongoing projects from 2016 were chosen for further study in which people played a large part in the design brief. Students from these four projects were interviewed mid-course on how and why they considered user backgrounds. The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed for analysis, coding each interview for the reported problems and influences for considerations regarding user backgrounds. The analysis revealed that challenges in considering user backgrounds occur on three different levels: First, teams are not aware of the background of the user as they do not consciously think about it (lack of awareness). Second, they do not understand the user background, even if they are aware of it (lack of empathy). Third, some teams are aware of the background and understand it but do not integrate the knowledge into the design (lack of integration). Especially methods with direct user contact and ones, in which designers immerse themselves in the user perspective are effective as hereby designers rely less on stereotypes and the empathic process is facilitated. We develop a set of methods called “Contextual Empathic Design (CED)” based on the identified successful patters of the student design projects to counteract problems occurred in user considerations. These guidelines enhance the education of engineers by improving their needfinding capabilities leading to an advanced overall ability to innovate. Further, this paper marks a novel way of human centered design and provides concrete recommendations on how CED can be translated into modern engineering education.

von Unold, B., & Böhmer, A. I., & Björklund, T. A., & Ledl, N., & Lindemann, U., & Toye, G., & Sheppard, S. (2018, June), Implications of Contextual Empathic Design for Engineering Education Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30626

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