Investigating Impacts on the Ideation Flexibility of Engineers

Seda Yilmaz, Kathryn Jablokow, Shanna Daly, Eli Silk, Meisha Berg
2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings   unpublished
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
more » ... sity 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. is an Assistant Professor of Industrial Design who teaches design studios and lecture courses on developing creativity and research skills. For her research, she investigates design approaches and ideation, ethnography in design, foundations of innovation, creative processes, and cross-disciplinary design team dynamics. She is the author of more than 20 peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings. She also serves on review, advisory, and scientific boards of various journals and conferences. Her current research focuses on identifying impacts of different factors on ideation of designers and engineers (funded by NSF), developing instructional materials for 77 cards (funded by NSF), and designing innovation workshops for students without design or engineering background and teaching them design thinking methodologies (funded by
doi:10.18260/1-2--20711 fatcat:7q2rterx6jd6zln5r23zkp4uja