Asee peer logo

Undergraduate Conceptions of the Engineering Design Process: Assessing the Impact of a Human-Centered Design Course

Download Paper |


2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Research on Engineering Design Education

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1563.1 - 22.1563.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Lora Oehlberg University of California, Berkeley

visit author page

Lora Oehlberg is a doctoral student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, and a member of the Berkeley Institute of Design. She received a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley (2008) and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University (2006). Her doctoral research is on how designers use personal design information tools during collaborative new product development projects. Her background includes both corporate product design and development and human–computer interaction research.

visit author page


Alice Merner Agogino University of California, Berkeley

visit author page

Alice M. Agogino is the Roscoe and Elizabeth Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering and affiliated faculty at the Haas School of Business in their Operations and Information Technology Management Group. She directs the Berkeley Expert Systems Technology/Berkeley Energy and Sustainable Technologies (BEST) Laboratories, the Berkeley Instructional Technology Studio (BITS) and is working to develop a Service Learning Media Lab and Design/Prototyping Studio in the new CITRIS building. She served as Chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate in 2005-06, having served as Vice Chair during the 2004-05 academic year. She has served in a number of other administrative positions at UC, Berkeley including Associate Dean of Engineering and Faculty Assistant to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost in Educational Development and Technology. She also served as Director for Synthesis, an NSF-sponsored coalition of eight universities with the goal of reforming undergraduate engineering education, and continues as PI for the NEEDS ( and the ( digital libraries of courseware in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. She has supervised 81 M.S. projects/theses, 33 doctoral dissertations, and numerous undergraduate researchers.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Title:Undergraduate Conceptions of the Engineering Design Process: Assessing the Impact of aHuman-Centered Design CourseAbstract:Throughout their education, engineering design students not only learn the design process,but also form and refine their own conception of what it means to do engineering design.Building on the results from a study of professional engineers’ conceptions of design, wepresent survey results from students of ME 110 (n=63), a senior-level human-centered designcourse, comparing their conceptions from before the course to those after the course. Weparticularly look at how the course affects their perceived importance of specific design skills,and their identification with a series of statements on the nature of design. We also comparethe students’ conceptions of design to those of professional engineers from the previous study.Our results show that engineering students and professional engineers disagree on theimportance of prototyping. They also disagree on the importance of the decision-making aspectsof design, including identifying constraints, generating alternatives, and making trade-offs. Our dataalso show that the students on average have less-polarized conceptions of design thanprofessional engineers.

Oehlberg, L., & Agogino, A. M. (2011, June), Undergraduate Conceptions of the Engineering Design Process: Assessing the Impact of a Human-Centered Design Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18519

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015