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The Decomposition/Recomposition Design Behavior of Student and Professional Engineers

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Teams, Capstone Courses, and Project Based-Learning

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


John S Gero UNCC

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John Gero is Research Professor in Computer Science and Architecture at UNCC, Research Professor in Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, and Research Professor in Computational Social Science at George Mason University. He was formerly Professor of Design Science, University of Sydney. He has edited/authored over 50 books and published over 650 research papers. He has been a professor of mechanical engineering, civil engineering, architecture, cognitive science, and computer science at MIT, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, Columbia and CMU in the USA, at Strathclyde and Loughborough in the UK, at INSA-Lyon and Provence in France and at EPFL in Switzerland.

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Ting Song South Puget Sound Community College

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Ting Song is professor in Department of CAD/BIM in South Puget Sound Community College. Ting holds a bachelor degree in Environmental Engineering. In addition, she holds a master and a doctoral degree in Engineering Education from Utah State University. Ting’s research interests include areas in engineering design and design thinking.

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In engineering education, engineering design plays a significant role. It is an important shaper of engineering design thinking. Among engineering design skills, problem decomposition and problem recomposition is a commonly used strategy but it has not been investigated widely. The research reported in this paper examines the use of decomposition and recomposition strategies in the context of engineering teams of undergraduate students and professional engineers. It used protocol analysis as the methodology, where video and audio data were collected from design teams work on solving an engineering design problem. The data was transcribed, segmented, and coded. A hierarchical coding scheme based on the FBS ontology and levels of the problem was used to code the data. The data was analyzed statistically and the results indicate significant differences between students and professionals in terms of their decomposition/recomposition behavior. Engineering professionals used the strategy of problem decomposition and problem recomposition more than students in their engineering design process. In addition, professionals used the strategy more in the first half of their design sessions than in the second half while students tended to use the strategy evenly through their entire design sessions. Another study involving a larger sample size is necessary to confirm the generality of the conclusions from this research.

Gero, J. S., & Song, T. (2017, June), The Decomposition/Recomposition Design Behavior of Student and Professional Engineers Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28953

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