Can experienced designers learn from new tools? A case study of idea generation in a professional engineering team

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Yilmaz, Seda
Daly, Shanna
Christian, James
Seifert, Colleen
Gonzalez, Richard
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McKilligan, Seda
Associate Dean for Academic Personnel Success and Strategic Initiatives
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Industrial Design
The Department of Industrial Design seeks to teach students to tap creativity for the design of products, systems or services that meet commercial objectives in business and industry. The Industrial Design Program was established in the Department of Art and Design in 2010. In 2012, the Department of Industrial Design was created.
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Generating novel ideas is a challenging part of engineering design, especially when the design task has been undertaken for an extended period of time. How can experienced designers develop new ideas for familiar problems? A tool called Design Heuristicsprovides strategies that support engineers in considering more, and more different, concepts during idea generation. Design Heuristics have been shown to help novice engineers create a set of more diverse and creative candidate concepts. In this case study, we extended this approach to a group of professional engineers who had worked on a specific product line for many years. In a workshop format, a small group of engineers worked with the heuristics in two separate sessions and generated ideas collaboratively. Video recordings were analyzed to reveal how the heuristics were used to stimulate new designs for their product line. We found that Design Heuristics bring order in ideas and elaboration on ideas, perhaps through coordinating effort on idea evaluation, increasing capacity to improve the ideas of others, and facilitating interaction between participants. This case study shows using Design Heuristics can assist even expert engineers to increase the variety of concepts generated, resulting in a larger set of ideas to consider.


This is a manuscript of an article from International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation, 2013, 2(2); 82-96. doi: 10.1080/21650349.2013.832016. Posted with permission.

Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2013