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The Prototype for X (PFX) Framework: Assessing Its Impact on Students' Prototyping Awareness

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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

Best of DEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Jessica Menold Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Jessica Menold is a third-year graduate student interested in entrepreneurship and the design process. She is currently conducting her graduate research with Dr. Kathryn Jablokow and Dr. Timothy Simpson on a project devoted to understanding how prototyping processes affect product design. Jessica is interested in exploring how a structured prototyping methodology, Prototype for X, could increase the end design's desirability, feasibility, and viability. She is also working to understand how these methods affect students' knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes in regards to prototyping.

Jessica is also working on a startup designing prosthetic limbs for individuals living in rural regions of developing countries. She has studied the design thinking process at the in Berlin and holds design thinking workshops and classes for students and companies around Penn State.

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Kathryn W. Jablokow Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Kathryn Jablokow is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Design at Penn State University. A graduate of Ohio State University (Ph.D., Electrical Engineering), Dr. Jablokow’s teaching and research interests include problem solving, invention, and creativity in science and engineering, as well as robotics and computational dynamics. In addition to her membership in ASEE, she is a Senior Member of IEEE and a Fellow of ASME. Dr. Jablokow is the architect of a unique 4-course module focused on creativity and problem solving leadership and is currently developing a new methodology for cognition-based design. She is one of three instructors for Penn State’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Creativity, Innovation, and Change, and she is the founding director of the Problem Solving Research Group, whose 50+ collaborating members include faculty and students from several universities, as well as industrial representatives, military leaders, and corporate consultants.

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Timothy W. Simpson Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. Simpson is currently a Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Penn State with affiliations in Engineering Design and the College of Information Sciences & Technology. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1998 and 1995, and his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1994. His research interests include product family and product platform design, product dissection, multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO), and additive manufacturing, and he has published over 250 peer-reviewed papers to date. He teaches courses on Product Family Design, Concurrent Engineering, Mechanical Systems Design, and Product Dissection, and he serves as the Director of the Product Realization Minor in the College of Engineering. He is a recipient of the ASEE Fred Merryfield Design Award and a NSF Career Award. He has received several awards for outstanding research and teaching at Penn State, including the 2007 Penn State University President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Integration. He is a Fellow in ASME and an Associate Fellow in AIAA. He currently serves on the ASME Design Education Division Executive Committee and is former Chair of both the ASME Design Automation Executive Committee and the AIAA MDO Technical Committee. He is also a Department Editor for IIE Transactions: Design & Manufacturing and serves on the editorial boards for Research in Engineering Design, Journal of Engineering Design, and Engineering Optimization.

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Emily A. Waterman Pennsylvania State University

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Each year, billions of dollars are invested by large companies in product research and design. Studies indicate that anywhere from 40-50% of those resources are wasted on cancelled products or those which yield poor results. The largest sunk cost of product development occurs during the prototyping phase of the design process, yet engineering design research has largely overlooked this pivotal stage in the design process. This study is a portion of a larger project based on a new theoretical framework for prototyping called Prototype for X or PFX. PFX draws from human centered design (HCD), design thinking (DT) and Design for X (DFX) frameworks and methods to enhance the design process and allow designers to prototype more effectively. Among the anticipated impacts of PFX is increased confidence in one’s prototyping skills, i.e., increased confidence in one’s ability to develop prototypes for different conditions. The research described here marks the first step in testing this hypothesis, namely, exploring the impact of PFX on students’ prototyping awareness.

In this study, students at a large Mid-Atlantic university were taught three prototyping lenses based on the PFX methodology: (1) Prototyping for Viability, (2) Prototyping for Feasibility, and (3) Prototyping for Desirability. This paper presents preliminary findings on the relationship between the these three prototyping lenses and students’ prototyping awareness, which we define as students’ ability to identify their mental models during the prototyping process. We use prototyping awareness as a proxy to measure adoption and implementation of PFX methods. The Prototyping AWareness Scale, or PAWS was created for this study, and we discuss its internal consistency and future iterations. Data were collected throughout the course of a semester-long design project; the PAWS was distributed at the conclusion of each PFX learning module. Results from both between and within subject experiments are presented.

Menold, J., & Jablokow, K. W., & Simpson, T. W., & Waterman, E. A. (2016, June), The Prototype for X (PFX) Framework: Assessing Its Impact on Students' Prototyping Awareness Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26999

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