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The Impact of a Prototype Exemplar on Design Creativity: A Case Study in Novice Designers

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Improving the Pedagogy of Laboratory Courses

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1307.1 - 25.1307.16



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Paper Authors


Thomas F. Schubert Jr. P.E. University of San Diego

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Thomas F. Schubert, Jr., received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California, Irvine, Irvine, Calif. He is currently a professor of electrical engineering at the University of San Diego, San Diego, Calif., and came there as a founding member of the engineering faculty in 1987, where he served as Director of Engineering Programs, 1997-2003. He previously served on the electrical engineering faculty at the University of Portland, Portland, Ore., and Portland State University, Portland, Ore., and on the engineering staff at Hughes Aircraft Company, Los Angeles, Calif. Schubert is a member of American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and is a registered professional engineer in Oregon. He is a co-author of the electronics textbook Active and Non-linear Electronics. He currently serves as the faculty advisor for the Kappa Eta chapter of Eta Kappa Nu at the University of San Diego.

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Frank G. Jacobitz University of San Diego

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Frank G. Jacobitz was born in Göttingen, Germany, in 1968. He received a diploma in physics from Georg-August Universität, Göttingen, Germany, in 1993, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, Calif., in 1995 and 1998, respectively. He has been with the University of San Diego, San Diego, Calif., since 2003, where he is currently a professor of mechanical engineering. From 1998 to 2003, he was an Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering with the University of California, Riverside. He has also been a visitor with the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université de Provence, Aix-Marseille I, France. His research interests include direct numerical simulations of turbulent flows with
shear, rotation, and stratification, as well as bio-fluid mechanical problems at the microscale. Jacobitz is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Physical Society (APS), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG). He currently serves as the faculty advisor to the student section of the ASME at the University of San Diego and on the Council and Executive Committee of the Pacific Division of the AAAS. He was selected for the 2008 Outstanding Engineering Educator award by the San Diego County Engineering Council.

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Michael S. Morse University of San Diego


Truc T. Ngo University of San Diego

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Truc Ngo is an Assistant Professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of San Diego. Ngo received her bachelor’s in 1997 and doctorate of philosophy in 2001, both in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ga. Before coming to teaching, she had worked for Intel Corporation as a Senior Process Engineer. Her current research interests are in the areas of biodegradable materials and green processes involving polymers, composites, semiconductors, and supercritical fluids.

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The Impact of a Prototype Exemplar on Design Creativity: A Case Study in Novice DesignersAbstractAn investigation into the impact of the presence of a prototype exemplar in an introductorydesign experience is described. The design experience occurred early in an Introduction toEngineering course after a single lecture on the engineering design process. The design activity,necessarily simple at this stage, consisted of designing, building, and testing a drag racer,constructed from Lego Mindstorms parts and powered by a single rubber band.Students participating in the design experience were divided into two functional groups:laboratory sections where a prototype exemplar was present and laboratory sections were noexample was provided. Assessment of the prototype exemplar impact was accomplished througha two-pronged approach. Photographs of each racer were taken at multiple stages in the designexperience and analyzed by the faculty, and a twelve-statement survey was given to all students.In addition to assigning numerical values (on a scale from 1 to 6) for their responses to thesurvey statements, students were asked to respond with short, written statements.A similar rating of survey statements such as: I am familiar with the engineering designprocess (average values of 3.67 and 3.89) and My partner came up with many ideas on how tobuild the racer (average values of 4.78 and 4.60) suggests that the two groups had similarbackgrounds about the engineering design process and that internal group interaction weresimilar, respectively.Stronger agreement was found in the control group for the statements: Looking at the otherteams racers improved our design (average values of 3.86 and 3.07) and Looking at otherteams racers decreased the need for original ideas (average values of 3.71 and 2.33). It appearsthat in the control group without an example, the prospect of an example had greater value thanthe exemplar group valued the actual example.Detailed analysis of the photographic evidence and the written student comments is underwayand will additionally be presented at the annual conference.

Schubert, T. F., & Jacobitz, F. G., & Morse, M. S., & Ngo, T. T. (2012, June), The Impact of a Prototype Exemplar on Design Creativity: A Case Study in Novice Designers Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22064

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