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Teaching Students How to Create Innovative Design Solutions Within a Product Development Context

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Darren C. Olson Central Washington University

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Dr. Olson teaches at Central Washington University, where he is the coordinator of the M.S. program in Engineering Technology. He earned a Ph.D. in Technology Management from Indiana State University, specializing in Quality Systems. He also earned an M.Ed. from Bowling Green State University in Career and Technology Education, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University. His interests are related to innovative problem solving, technology management, and product development.

400 E. University Way, MS 7584
Ellensburg, WA 98926

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Students can learn to innovate on demand. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how the term project in a product design and development course was used to help students develop innovative solutions to a real design challenge, based on a scenario provided by the instructor. Key concepts from the course were tied together throughout the phases of the project, which began with needs identification and progressed through the creation of design concepts, concept screening, concept refinement and selection, system-level design, component level design, and finally feasibility analysis. Students were provided with a scenario that required them to design an accessory for an existing mass-market product. The purpose of this new accessory was to provide the functionality and benefits of multiple existing accessories while avoiding some of the drawbacks posed by these current solutions. Students used a combination of tools to envision and refine design concepts, select a concept for development, and create a product design. Using stakeholder job statements as the starting point of the needs identification process, students created and prioritized a list of needs. They also created a list of contradictions among stakeholder needs, and then applied lateral thinking techniques, including inventive problem solving (TRIZ), to devise innovative solutions to design challenges and to develop initial product concepts. They screened and then refined those concepts, and then used a Pugh Matrix to select the winning concept. The leading concept was translated into system-level design requirements and then into design specifications using quality function deployment (QFD). Once a student’s design was fully developed, he or she analyzed its feasibility and further refined it based on the application of industrial design (ID), design for manufacture (DFM), robust design, and discounted cash flow analysis (DFA) concepts. By teaching students about some key concepts from a variety of related disciplines and giving them an opportunity to apply these principles in a structured assignment, the instructor was able to lead them through the process of creating an innovative product design, and help them to realize that innovation is an ability that can be developed.

Olson, D. C. (2016, June), Teaching Students How to Create Innovative Design Solutions Within a Product Development Context Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26051

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