Observations on concept generation and sketching in engineering design

Research in Engineering Design (Impact Factor: 1.94). 01/2009; 20(1):1-11. DOI: 10.1007/s00163-008-0055-0

ABSTRACT The generation of ideas is an essential element in the process of design. One suggested approach to improving the quality
of ideas is through increasing their quantity. In this study, concept generation is examined via brainstorming, morphology
charts and sketching. Statistically significant correlations were found between the quantity of brainstormed ideas and design
outcome. In some, but not all, experiments, correlations were found between the quantity of morphological alternatives and
design outcome. This discrepancy between study results hints at the role of project length and difficulty in design. The volume
of dimensioned drawings generated during the early-to-middle phases of design were found to correlate with design outcome,
suggesting the importance of concrete sketching, timing and milestones in the design process.

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    ABSTRACT: The development of product-service innovation projects within the context of a company is not yet supported by clear theories and methodologies. Our objective is to analyze innovation and idea generation for such projects from the fuzzy front end to the selected design concept, assessing their potential to be successfully developed and launched on the market. We present a protocol study, using which data derived from 19 innovation projects of five types and conducted by 86 students are analyzed. Sixty-one variables are observed, thus generating 700 data vectors. Bayesian network learning is used to explore conditional inferences among these variables. We examine conditional probabilities between the innovation process means and the significant results produced for the company, modulated by the influence of contextual variables. A number of surprising findings are drawn about the link between problem setting and problem solving processes, the importance of certain contextual variables, and the potential discrepancies between the apparent and produced results of innovative projects. Conducted analyses imply the need for novel innovation evaluation frameworks.
    Journal of Mechanical Design. 01/2013; 135(2):021005-021005-17.
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    ABSTRACT: The importance of prototyping in the design process has been widely recognized, but less research emphasis has been placed on the appropriate timing and detail of so-called "throwaway" prototyping during the preliminary design phase. Based on a study of mid-career professional graduate students, statistically significant correlations were found between the time such prototypes were created and design outcome. Building prototypes early on in the design process, or performing additional rounds of benchmarking and user interaction later on during the project (in addition to the typical early stage efforts), correlated with better design outcome, although the total time spent on these activities did not. The correlation between project presentations and reviewer scores are also touched upon. These findings suggest that the timing of design activities is more important than the time spent on them.
    25th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology, Portland, OR; 08/2013


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