Assessing Design Methods for Functional Representation and Concept Generation: Strategies and Preliminary Results

DS 58-2: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 2, Design Theory and Research Methodology, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Tate, Derrick; Agarwal, Aditya; Zhang, Linjing
Series: ICED
Section: Design Theory and Research Methodology
Page(s): 441-452


To support collaborative conceptual design, methods for functional representation and concept generation are essential. Many methods have been proposed following various design theories, but little assessment has been done to compare methods or provide guidance for choosing appropriate methods. In particular, the context considered is entrepreneurial engineering design in which support is needed for individuals - many with non-technical backgrounds - to define, assess, and develop their ideas, thus involving a combination of individual and collaborative work. Seven methods for functional representation and six methods for enhancing creativity during conceptual design were considered. A proposed set of criteria was defined for evaluation of the methods, and the methods were applied to a common set of design problems and compared and contrasted. Additionally, experimental design procedures for individual and group design tasks and samples of training materials are presented. An initial set of interviews and experiments were conducted to assess designers' perceptions, learning, and skills in using the different methods. Preliminary results, conclusions, and future work are described.

Keywords: Functional representation, Creativity, Conceptual design, Assessment


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