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Valuing and Engaging Stakeholders: The Effects of Engineering Students' Interactions During Capstone Design

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Best of DEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1695.1 - 26.1695.14



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Paper Authors


Ibrahim Mohedas University of Michigan

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Ibrahim Mohedas is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. He received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. His research focuses on the design of medical devices for resource limited settings, particularly related to the use of design ethnography in developing these technologies. He works in the Laboratory for Innovation in Global Health Technology (LIGHT) and is co-advised by Shanna Daly and Kathleen Sienko.

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Grace Louise Cravens Sienko Research Group

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Grace Cravens is a sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Michigan studying Industrial & Operations Engineering. She is from St. Joseph, MI, and has worked for Sienko Research Group since 2013.

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Shanna R. Daly University of Michigan Orcid 16x16

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Shanna Daly is an Assistant Research Scientist and Adjunct Assistant Professor in Engineering Education in at the University of Michigan. She has a B.E. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton (2003) and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University (2008). Her research focuses on strategies for design innovations through divergent and convergent thinking as well as through deep needs and community assessments using design ethnography, and translating those strategies to design tools and education. She teaches design and entrepreneurship courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, focusing on front-end design processes.

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Kathleen H. Sienko University of Michigan

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Kathleen H. Sienko is a Miller Faculty Scholar and Associate Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan (UM). She earned her Ph.D. in 2007 in Medical Engineering and Bioastronautics from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology, and holds an S.M. in Aeronautics & Astronautics from MIT and a B.S. in Materials Engineering from the University of Kentucky. She directs both the Sensory Augmentation and Rehabilitation Laboratory (SARL) and the Laboratory for Innovation in Global Health Technology (LIGHT). SARL focuses on the design, development, and evaluation of medical devices, especially for balance-impaired populations such as individuals with vestibular loss or advanced age. LIGHT focuses on the co-creative design of frugal innovations to address healthcare challenges in resource-limited settings. Prof. Sienko has led efforts at the University of Michigan to incorporate the constraints of global health technologies within engineering design at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She is the recipient of a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, a Teaching Innovation Prize from the UM Provost, and a UM Undergraduate Teaching Award. While at MIT, she was a winner of the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition.

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Student perceptions of stakeholders during capstone design Engaging with stakeholders is a crucial aspect to designing successful products andservices. Design paradigms such as human-centered, user-centered, and participatory designplace the stakeholders who will be affected by a product or service at the center of the designprocess in order to fully consider their wants and needs. These paradigms stand in contrast tomore traditional technology-centered design views where designers make decisions that are thenimposed upon future stakeholders (Hoffman et al., 2002; Krippendorff, 2007). In a review ofhuman-centered design definitions, Zhang and Dong found that designers employing this designparadigm place human beings at the center of the design process, strive to understandstakeholders holistically, utilize multidisciplinary design teams, involve stakeholders throughoutthe design process, and seek to make products or services useful, usable, and desirable (Zhang &Dong, 2009). Some engineering design courses use human-centered design processes to guidestudents during design projects, however, few studies have attempted to better understand howengineering students perceive design and whether this aligns with the principles of human-centered design. Within this limited body of work, one phenomenographic study of 33 designstudents found that there was a wide variation in how students experienced design, ranging fromtechnology-centered views to empathic viewpoints (Zoltowski, Oakes, & Cardella, 2012).Another study found that while students might theoretically see the benefits of engaging activelywith stakeholders, they encounter many practical challenges to this interaction and may obtainonly superficial benefits from the interactions (Mohedas, Daly, & Sienko, 2014). The primary goal of this study was to better understand how capstone design studentsperceive stakeholders during design and what effect their design projects may have on theirperceptions. An open-ended questionnaire was distributed to 29 students at the beginning of theircapstone design course. The questionnaire prompted students to describe the role of stakeholdersduring the design process, the benefits/challenges of interacting with stakeholders,methodologies for interacting with stakeholders, and the challenges they might encounter usingthese methodologies. At the end of the semester, the questionnaires were returned to the studentsand they were given the opportunity to add to, subtract from, or change any of their originalresponses. Responses were qualitatively analyzed using an emergent coding methodology andtheme identification techniques (Ryan & Bernard, 2003). Preliminary analysis of students’responses suggests a wide variety of perceptions regarding the role of stakeholders including:stakeholders having a non-design role (i.e. providing background information only), stakeholdersserving as design reviewers (i.e. approving concepts), and stakeholders serving as guides for thedesign team. In addition, the analysis elucidated that the nature of students’ design projects hadan effect on how their perceptions of stakeholders changed over the course of the design project.This study demonstrates that capstone design courses can have significant impact on howstudents understand and perceive aspects of human-centered design and that design projects canbe developed specifically to enhance their understanding of this design paradigm.References:Hoffman, R. R., Feltovich, P. J., Ford, K. M., Woods, D. D., Klein, G., & Feltovich, A. (2002). A Rose by Any Other Name … Would Probably Be Given an Acronym. Human-Centered Computing, 17(4), 72 – 80.Krippendorff, K. (2007). The Semantic Turn: A New Foundation for Design. Artifact. Boca Raton: CRC Press.Mohedas, I., Daly, S. R., & Sienko, K. H. (2014). Design Ethnography in Capstone Design: Investigating Student Use and Perceptions. International Journal of Engineering Education, 30(4), 888–900.Ryan, G. W., & Bernard, H. R. (2003). Techniques to Identify Themes. Field Methods, 15(1), 85–109.Zhang, T., & Dong, H. (2009). Human-Centred Design: An Emergent Conceptual Model. In Include2009 (pp. 1–7). London.Zoltowski, C. B., Oakes, W. C., & Cardella, M. E. (2012). Students ’ Ways of Experiencing Human-Centered Design. Journal of Engineering Education, 101(1), 28–59.

Mohedas, I., & Cravens, G. L., & Daly, S. R., & Sienko, K. H. (2015, June), Valuing and Engaging Stakeholders: The Effects of Engineering Students' Interactions During Capstone Design Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25031

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