June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Design in Engineering Education
13.1152.1 - 13.1152.23
Teaching Concept Generation Methodologies in Product Development Courses and Senior Design Projects
Concept generation is a very important activity in product development projects and in the solution of open ended design problems. Following a structured and systematic approach is of particular importance to make sure that the entire space of possible solutions has been explored. Undergraduate and graduate product development courses in which a project-based learning strategy is used and senior design projects provide an excellent opportunity to teach concept generation methodologies and to have the students apply what they have learned in a practical context. Without this support, students tend to spend very little time generating possible solution concepts and end this activity with only a few design alternatives that are typically dominated by the previous background and knowledge of the team members. In this regard, it is not uncommon for students to conceive and focus on a couple of solution concepts as soon as the requirements have been identified, quickly select one of them, and proceed to the detailed design stage of the chosen concept. The problem is that if an inherently weak concept has been selected, even flawless execution of all the remaining steps in the product development process result in a poor and uncompetitive end result. In this paper, the approach followed by the authors to teach concept generation in sophomore level and graduate level product development courses as well as in senior design projects is presented. Examples extracted from projects carried out by students are used to illustrate the different steps of the methodology employed and the output corresponding to each step. Finally, a brief assessment of the results obtained is given followed by suggestions for possible improvements.
Great emphasis is being placed in undergraduate education to prepare the students that have the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values, required to be successful in the practice of the profession in a highly competitive and global economy. One of the key competencies needed by many companies is the ability to work effectively in multidisciplinary teams that are designing new products or manufacturing processes. Among other things, this requires students that have a very good understanding of the design process and, in particular, of how to perform each of the tasks involved in it.
A very effective approach to teach product design and development is to use a project based learning strategy in which students have to immediately apply the concepts, methodologies and tools presented in the course to a project that has the key elements found in an industrial setting but that meets the severe time constraints found in an academic environment. At the present time some Senior Design Project and Capstone-type senior-level courses are following that particular approach (see for example Dutson et al.1, Catalano et al.2, and Muci-Küchler and Weaver3). In addition, some of the freshman, sophomore and/or junior level design courses that are being incorporated into the curricula (see for example Starkey et al.4, Newman and Amir5, Wood et al.6, and Muci-Küchler et al.7) are also using a project based learning strategy.
Muci-Küchler, K., & Weaver, J., & Dolan, D. (2008, June), Teaching Concept Generation Methodologies In Product Development Courses And Senior Design Projects Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3766
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