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Teaching Concept Generation Methodologies In Product Development Courses And Senior Design Projects

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

DEED Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1152.1 - 13.1152.23



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Paper Authors


Karim Muci-Küchler South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Karim Muci-Küchler is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Before joining SDSM&T, he was an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Detroit Mercy. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from Iowa State University in 1992. His main interest areas include Computational Mechanics, Solid Mechanics, and Product Design and Development. He has taught several different courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, has over 30 technical publications, is co-author of one book, and has done consulting for industry in Mexico and the US. He can be reached at

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Jonathan Weaver University of Detroit Mercy

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Jonathan Weaver is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM). He received his BSME from Virginia Tech in 1986, his MSME and PhD in ME from RPI in 1990 and 1993, respectively. He has several years of industry experience and regularly consults with an automaker on projects related to CAD, DOE, and product development. He can be reached at

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Daniel Dolan South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Dan Dolan joined the faculty of the SDSM&T in 1981 after completing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1977 and a Humboldt Fellowship in Germany in 1981. He has been involved in teaching for almost 25 years. He has taught courses in thermodynamics, dynamics, controls, manufacturing, IC engines and vehicle dynamics. He has worked in industry on engine development and manufacturing control system development. He has coauthored over 25 technical papers and is co-inventor on six patents.

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

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. 10.18260/1-2--3766

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