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Integrating Design Research Into The Classroom: Experiments In Two Graduate Courses

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.611.1 - 6.611.13



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Paper Authors

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Russell Barton

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Mary Frecker

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Joseph Goldberg

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Gary Stump

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Britt Holewinski

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Timothy Simpson

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

Session 2525

Integrating Design Research into the Classroom: An Experiment in Two Graduate Courses

Mary Frecker, Timothy W. Simpson, Joseph H. Goldberg, Russell R. Barton, Britt Holewinski, and Gary Stump The Pennsylvania State University


As computer technology advances, graphical design environments (GDEs) and visualization tools to support engineering design and decision making are gaining prominence and recognition, particularly in the area of multiobjective design and optimization. In this paper, we discuss an experiment in two graduate courses that was designed to evaluate GDEs through in- class student assignments. For this first set of experiments, a GDE was developed for designing an I-beam cross section with two competing objectives. Within the GDE, students were allowed to vary the values of the design variables and view the corresponding performance graphically in an effort to obtain an optimal design based on a weighted sum of the objectives. Methods for evaluating student efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction within a GDE are discussed, and preliminary results from the experiment verify that graphical design environments can improve design quality and overall satisfaction with the design. The importance of rapid graphical feedback in a GDE is also investigated by incorporating time delays in the performance response. The use of graphical design environments to improve student understanding of design tradeoffs in the classroom is discussed, and results from the I-beam experiment are compared with a previous assignment wherein students had to choose an optimal design without the use of a graphical design interface.

I. Introduction

As engineering systems become more complex and design generations exhibit greater leaps in technology and performance, traditional methods of experience-based iterative design become ineffective. Consequently, the use of visualization to support engineering design and decision making is growing rapidly in both industry and academia as computer technology advances and the requisite tools and technology become more readily available. While companies such as Chrysler,1 Raytheon,2 and Boeing3,4 are learning how to harness the power of visualization to expedite and integrate product and process development, the state-of-the-art in optimization visualization is in its infancy.5 Ng6 advocates the use of data visualization and interaction to support the designer in making informed decisions and tradeoffs during multiobjective design and optimization. Jones7 argues that design optimization is more than just algorithm development; appropriate representations (i.e., visualization strategies) are needed to better understand the models, algorithms, data, and solutions obtained during the design optimization process. Finally, Eddy and Mockus8 argue that visualization should be considered as a solution tool rather than simply a means to present results.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society of Engineering Education

Barton, R., & Frecker, M., & Goldberg, J., & Stump, G., & Holewinski, B., & Simpson, T. (2001, June), Integrating Design Research Into The Classroom: Experiments In Two Graduate Courses Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9413

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