Asee peer logo

Understanding Student Conceptualizations of the Market Context in Engineering Design

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: Design

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Steven Hoffenson Stevens Institute of Technology

visit author page

Steven Hoffenson is an Assistant Professor in the School of Systems and Enterprises at Stevens Institute of Technology, where his research and teaching focus on design, sustainability, optimization, and complex systems. Dr. Hoffenson holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland and an M.S.E. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining Stevens, he served as a Congressional Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

visit author page


Nicole P. Pitterson Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Nicole is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Prior to joining VT, Dr. Pitterson was a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University. She holds a PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University and other degrees in Manufacturing Engineering from Western Illinois University and a B.Sc. in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Technology, Jamaica. Her research interests are exploring students' disciplinary identity through engagement with knowledge, curriculum design, assessment and evaluation and teaching for conceptual understanding.

visit author page


Jessica Rose Driscoll Stevens Institute of Technology

visit author page

Jessica Driscoll is a Systems Engineering graduate student at Stevens Institute of Technology currently focused on research in engineering education.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Research has shown that engineering students are graduating without all of the skills that they need to succeed in professional engineering practice. While undergraduate engineering programs emphasize technical design and analysis, they generally do not adequately teach or discuss marketability, and evidence suggests that engineering students are graduating without a sufficient grasp of the bigger picture of design. This is reinforced by the available tools for use in engineering education, which are highly focused on ensuring technical feasibility, and a corresponding lack of tools for engineers to explore other design needs. At the same time, research in engineering design has resulted in new market-driven design techniques, which provide guidance for design practitioners regarding how to develop products that are both technically sound and marketable. However, this concept of market-driven design has not yet been widely integrated into engineering curricula. By exploring how current students conceptualize design, this study seeks to contribute to a more balanced perspective on design in undergraduate engineers that accounts for both technical feasibility and market needs. In this paper, we examine third-year Engineering Management students’ mental models of design prior to and after a project-based design course that emphasizes market-driven design concepts and tools. The fundamental research questions are: (1) To what extent do undergraduate engineering students' initial conceptions of design account for the market context, such as competition and consumer considerations? (2) In what ways do these design conceptions change after introducing market-driven design techniques and tools in a design course? Using concept mapping exercises (pre- and post-course), open-ended reflection assignments, surveys, and an assessment of project performance, we reveal how students conceive of and learn about the market context as an integral part of the design process. This contributes to insights regarding how students conceptually balance the technical and non-technical elements of design, as well as evidence regarding the value of a constructivism-based educational approach to advancing student understanding of market-driven design. The results provide a foundational understanding and recommendations regarding holistic design education for engineers in order to reduce the school to work transition gap.

Hoffenson, S., & Pitterson, N. P., & Driscoll, J. R. (2020, June), Understanding Student Conceptualizations of the Market Context in Engineering Design Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35426

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: © 2020 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