Asee peer logo

Using Online Open-innovation Challenges to Introduce Design in First-year Engineering Courses

Download Paper |


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

Design in Freshman and Sophomore Courses

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1434.1 - 25.1434.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Andrew Trivett University of Prince Edward Island

author page

Stephen Champion University of Prince Edward Island

Download Paper |


Using Online Open-Innovation Challenges to introduce Design in First-Year engineering coursesAbstract Project-based courses in first-year provide the first exposure to design. The first project astudent encounters can set up their view of the profession for the rest of their academic career.Typically, these project problems are created by the faculty. Problems used may often appear tobe overly “cooked-up”, sometimes a bit stale, and students can get a sense that they are not“real” design projects. Unfortunately, even though the design process learning can be excellent,the experience of students can be influenced by their belief of whether or no the design project is“real”. In addition, it is increasingly apparent that the millenial student coming into anengineering program may believe the live professor to be less credible than the anonymousonline “expert” or community.We have developed a unit in the first-year program that has students engage in an online “OpenInnovation” design exercise through a popular design challenge model hosted by Innocentive. Inthese design projects, which have a 3-4 week duration, the students review and choose one of thebrief Innocentive design “Challenges” to enter. The challenges are real, and the seekers haveposted real monetary prizes for the best solution. Each challenge has a brief description from the“seeker” outlining the seeker's problem and their criteria for judging responses. The Innocentivemodel provides a brief proposal format which is analogous to the format for a brief engineeringconceptual design proposal. Students, either as individuals or teams, can proceed through thedevelopment of a solution and the preparation of a proposal. Everything from conceptual design,drawings, technical specifications, and intellectual property can be introduced through these realdesign challenges. Each step along the way, in the engineering design course, is mapped to stepsin a design cycle and engineering report.The Open innovation model enables students to experience “real” social and industrialchallenges that are not at all “cooked up” by local faculty. The design challenges can be used tohighlight the global nature of engineering, innovation, and the need for being competitive indesign for a global market place. The paper will review experience acquired through runningintroductory challenges in first year design over three academic years.

Trivett, A., & Champion, S. (2012, June), Using Online Open-innovation Challenges to Introduce Design in First-year Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22191

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: © 2012 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