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Investigating Impacts on the Ideation Flexibility of Engineers

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.819.1 - 24.819.15



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Paper Authors


Seda Yilmaz Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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is an Assistant Professor of Industrial Design who teaches design studios and lecture courses on developing creativity and research skills. For her research, she investigates design approaches and ideation, ethnography in design, foundations of innovation, creative processes, and cross-disciplinary design team dynamics. She is the author of more than 20 peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. She also serves on review, advisory, and scientific boards of various journals and conferences. Her current research focuses on identifying impacts of different factors on ideation of designers and engineers (funded by NSF), developing instructional materials for 77 cards (funded by NSF), and designing innovation workshops for students without design or engineering background and teaching them design thinking methodologies (funded by Procter and Gamble). She received her PhD degree in Design Science in 2010 from University of Michigan. She is also a faculty in Human Computer Interaction Graduate Program and a research faculty in Center for e-Design.

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Kathryn Jablokow Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Kathryn Jablokow is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Design at Penn State University. A graduate of Ohio State University (Ph.D., Electrical Engineering), Dr. Jablokow’s teaching and research interests include problem solving, invention, and creativity in science and engineering, as well as robotics and computational dynamics. In addition to her membership in ASEE, she is a Senior Member of IEEE and a Fellow of ASME. Dr. Jablokow is the architect of a unique 4-course module focused on creativity and problem solving leadership and is currently developing a new methodology for cognition-based design. She is one of three instructors for Penn State’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Creativity, Innovation, and Change, and she is the founding director of the Problem Solving Research Group, whose 50+ collaborating members include faculty and students from several universities, as well as industrial representatives, military leaders, and corporate consultants.

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Shanna R. Daly University of Michigan Orcid 16x16

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Shanna Daly is an Assistant Research Scientist and Adjunct Assistant Professor 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. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Her research focuses on idea generation, design strategies, design ethnography, creativity instruction, and engineering practitioners who return to graduate school. She teaches design and entrepreneurship courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her work is often cross-disciplinary, collaborating with colleagues from engineering, education, psychology, and industrial design.

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Eli M. Silk University of Michigan Orcid 16x16


Meisha Nicole Berg Iowa State University

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Meisha Rosenberg is a 2nd year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering and Human-Computer Interaction at Iowa State University. She received her BS in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University in 2011. Her research interests include the use of Immersive Computing Technologies in collaborative design work among engineers and design students. She is current working with Dr. Seda Yilmaz to investigate the role that cognitive style plays in a designer's ideation process and how tools can be used effectively to modify the ideation process for a variety of circumstances.

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Investigating Impacts on the Ideation Flexibility of EngineersIdeation is a critical skill for all engineers as they explore problem spaces and develop bothshort-term and long-term solutions. Engineers can benefit from understanding their preferredideation approaches (based on their cognitive style, as defined by Kirton’s Adaption-Innovationtheory) and the situations in which those approaches are effective. Engineers can also benefitfrom developing proficiency in a diversity of approaches in order to ideate effectively in avariety of problem situations. However, the current engineering education paradigm does notprovide distinct opportunities for engineering students to understand their natural approaches toideation or to learn how to deliberately approach idea generation in other ways.We define ideation flexibility as the ability to ideate along a continuum of incremental to radicalways depending on the needs of the problem. Based on previous research, we expect three keyfactors to influence ideation flexibility: 1) problem framing (the way a problem and itsconstraints are “set”); 2) the use of ideation tools (strategies that guide and inspire solution spaceexploration, e.g., Design Heuristics); and 3) ideation teaming (interactions with others duringideation).In this paper, we focus on the development of a sustainable foundation for our investigation ofthese three factors. Currently, we have collected data from pre-engineering and engineeringundergraduate students at multiple levels in their educational programs using experimentalstudies to determine how each factor impacts students’ natural ideation tendencies. We presentour vision for this foundation and illustrate some of our preliminary findings through casestudies. Our long-term project goals include creating guidelines and methods that will helpengineers increase their ideation flexibility by learning how to deliberately approach ideationdifferently.

Yilmaz, S., & Jablokow, K., & Daly, S. R., & Silk, E. M., & Berg, M. N. (2014, June), Investigating Impacts on the Ideation Flexibility of Engineers Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20711

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