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Investigating a Socially Engaged Design Process Model

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

DEED Technical Session 11 Empathy and Human-Centered Design 2

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Paper Authors


Kelley Dugan University of Michigan

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Kelley E. Dugan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Her current research focuses on exploration of design process models, assessment of socially engaged engineering skills, and assessments of systems thinking skills. Her research interests include complex problem solving, front-end design practices, and design behavior for sustainability. She has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University. Prior to starting graduate school, she worked in the consumer appliance industry for two years. Kelley is also a Graduate Facilitator with the Center for Socially Engaged Design and a Graduate Academic Liaison with the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning.

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Shanna Daly University of Michigan

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Shanna Daly is an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. She has a B.E. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton and a Ph.D. degree in Engineering Education from Purdue University. In her work, she characterizes front-end design practices across the student to practitioner continuum, develops empirically-based tools to support design best practices, and studies the impact of front-end design tools on design success. Specifically, she focuses on divergent and convergent thinking processes in design innovations, including investigations of concept generation and development, exploring problem spaces to identify real needs and innovation opportunities, and approaches to integrate social and cultural elements of design contexts into design decisions.

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Charlie Michaels University of Michigan

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Charlie Michaels is the Director for Experiential Learning and a Lecturer at the University of Michigan's Center for Socially Engaged Design (C-SED). He leads C-SED’s experiential learning programs including a design fieldwork course which places students with global, cross sector partner organizations. Charlie actively works with faculty from across the university to build socially engaged design content and processes into curricula, leads C-SED’s team of graduate student facilitators, manages the C-SED Prototyping Lab, and has designed and taught community engaged arts & design courses with partners nationally and internationally. Charlie is a Creative Community Fellow at National Arts Strategies and the Center for Social Impact Strategies at University of Pennsylvania and has been awarded grants and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Vermont Studio Center, and The Ragdale Foundation. Charlie holds a MFA from the University of Michigan in Interdisciplinary art & design and a BFA from Bradley University.

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Steve Skerlos University of Michigan


Ann Verhey-Henke University of Michigan

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Ann Verhey-Henke is the Strategic Director of the Center for Socially Engaged Design (C-SED) in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. She is a Lecturer at Michigan Law in the Problem Solving Initiative. Prior to joining C-SED, Ann was the Managing Director of Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship and Adjunct Lecturer in Health Management and Policy at Michigan Public Health. Additionally, Ann has served as Director of Foundation Relations for Health, Science and Technology, Interim Director of Development School of Information, Director of Research Administration at the School of Information, and Research Administrator at the Program for Research on Black Americans at the Institute for Social Research. Ann has a BA in Psychology and Religion from Hope College and an MDiv from McCormick Theological Seminary.

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Educators can leverage a variety of process models to scaffold students from beginning designer practices to practices aligned with more experienced designers. The Center for Socially Engaged Design at the University of Michigan developed a Socially Engaged Design (SED) Process Model to explicitly emphasize important aspects of design that are often underemphasized or not included in commonly-used design process models, including, for example, designers embracing the limitations of their own perspective and acknowledging the power they hold, the benefits of integrating contextual considerations, and the use of prototypes throughout a design process rather than as single phase in a design process. To better understand the role of design process models, broadly, and the perceived value of process models that emphasize the importance of people and context in design work, specifically, we investigated upper-level mechanical engineering students' perceptions of this SED Process Model. Our findings from this initial exploratory study showed both variability and several consistent themes in participants’ perceptions, for example, there were several interpretations of relationships between different aspects of the model, iteration in design was salient to all participants, and while this SED Process Model does have recommendations, several participants noted it does not specify exactly how to achieve those recommendations. Understanding engineering students’ perceptions of this SED Process Model can help us (1) iterate on the process model itself and (2) better understand how to leverage multiple process models in engineering curricula.

Dugan, K., & Daly, S., & Michaels, C., & Skerlos, S., & Verhey-Henke, A. (2022, August), Investigating a Socially Engaged Design Process Model Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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