Investigating Impacts on the Ideation Flexibility of Engineers

Thumbnail Image
Yilmaz, Seda
Jablokow, Kathryn
Daly, Shanna
Silk, Eli
Berg, Meisha
Major Professor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
McKilligan, Seda
Associate Dean for Academic Personnel Success and Strategic Initiatives
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit
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.
Journal Issue
Is Version Of

Investigating Impacts on the Ideation Flexibility of Engineers Ideation is a critical skill for all engineers as they explore problem spaces and develop both short-term and long-term solutions. Engineers can benefit from understanding their preferred ideation approaches (based on their cognitive style, as defined by Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation theory) and the situations in which those approaches are effective. Engineers can also benefit from developing proficiency in a diversity of approaches in order to ideate effectively in avariety of problem situations. However, the current engineering education paradigm does not provide distinct opportunities for engineering students to understand their natural approaches to ideation or to learn how to deliberately approach idea generation in other ways.We define ideation flexibility as the ability to ideate along a continuum of incremental to radical ways depending on the needs of the problem. Based on previous research, we expect three key factors to influence ideation flexibility: 1) problem framing (the way a problem and its constraints are “set”); 2) the use of ideation tools (strategies that guide and inspire solution space exploration, e.g., Design Heuristics); and 3) ideation teaming (interactions with others during ideation).In this paper, we focus on the development of a sustainable foundation for our investigation of these three factors. Currently, we have collected data from pre-engineering and engineering undergraduate students at multiple levels in their educational programs using experimental studies to determine how each factor impacts students’ natural ideation tendencies. We present our vision for this foundation and illustrate some of our preliminary findings through case studies. Our long-term project goals include creating guidelines and methods that will help engineers increase their ideation flexibility by learning how to deliberately approach ideation differently.


This is a proceedings from 2014 ASEE Annual Conference, June 15-18, 2014. Posted with permission.

Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2014