Engineering Design Thinking, Teaching, and Learning

Authors

  • Clive L. Dym,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Engineering Harvey Mudd College
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    • Clive L. Dym has been Fletcher Jones Professor of Engineering Design at Harvey Mudd College since 1991, where he directs the Center for Design Education and was also department chair (1999–2002). His interests include design theory, knowledge-based (expert) systems for engineering design, and structural and applied mechanics. Dr. Dym completed the B.S.C.E. at Cooper Union (1964), an M.S. degree at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (1964), and the Ph.D. at Stanford University (1967). He has published more than 100 archival journal articles, proceedings papers, and technical reports; served on the editorial boards of several journals; and edited five volumes and written ten books, the latter including: Engineering Design: A Synthesis of Views, Cambridge University Press, 1994; Engineering Design: A Project-Based Introduction (co-authored by P. Little), 2nd ed., John Wiley, 2004; and Principles of Mathematical Modeling, 2nd ed., Academic Press, 2004. Dr. Dym is a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, ASME, ASCE, and is a member of ASEE. Dr. Dym has received ASCE's Walter L. Huber Research Prize (1980), ASEE's Western Electric Fund Award (1983), and Fred Merryfield Design Award (2002), first runner-up for the Boeing Outstanding Engineering Educator Award (2001), and ASME's Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award (2004).

  • Alice M. Agogino,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Mechanical Engineering University of California at Berkeley
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    • Alice M. Agogino is the Roscoe and Elizabeth Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering and has served in a number of administrative positions at UC Berkeley, including associate dean of engineering and faculty assistant to the executive vice chancellor and provost in Educational Development and Technology. Professor Agogino also served as director for Synthesis, an NSF-sponsored coalition of eight universities with the goal of reforming undergraduate engineering education, and continues as PI for the NEEDS (www.needs.org) and SMETE.ORG digital libraries of courseware in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. Professor Agogino received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of New Mexico (1975), the M.S. degree in mechanical engineering (1978) from the University of California at Berkeley, and the Ph.D. from the Department of Engineering-Economic Systems at Stanford University (1984). She has authored more than 150 scholarly publications; has won numerous teaching, best paper, and research awards; and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. She has supervised sixty-one master's projects/theses, twenty-three doctoral dissertations, and numerous undergraduate researchers.

  • Ozgur Eris,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Mechanical Engineering Stanford University
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    • Ozgur Eris is the associate research director of the Center for Design Research at Stanford University. His interests include engineering design theory, design cognition, and design informatics. He received a B.S. from the University of Washington, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. He has published on the role of inquiry in design, design knowledge and capture, and interdisciplinary aspects of creativity. He is the author of Effective Inquiry for Engineering Design, Kluwer, 2004.

  • Daniel D. Frey,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Mechanical Engineering Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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    • Daniel D. Frey is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests include design theory, robust design, statistics, and systems engineering. Professor Frey earned a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from MIT. Prof. Frey has received an R&D 100 Award (1997), MIT's Baker Award for Undergraduate Education (1999), and the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics Teaching Award (2000).

  • Larry J. Leifer

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Mechanical Engineering Stanford University
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    • Larry J. Leifer has been a member of the Stanford School of Engineering faculty since 1976. Professor Leifer teaches a year long master's sequence in “Team-Based Product Innovation with Corporate Partners,” the “Design Theory and Methodology Forum,” and a freshman seminar, “Designing the Human Experience: Design Thinking in Theory and Practice.” He is founding director of the Stanford Center for Design Research (CDR, 1984), a faculty co-op that has produced more than sixty Ph.D. recipients in the domains of design-process-management, design-informatics, and mechatronic-systems design. From 1978 through 1989 he served as founding director of the Stanford-VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center with continuing engagement in “Design-for-Wellbeing” projects. From 1997–2001 he served as founding director of the Stanford Learning Laboratory, an ongoing university-wide initiative now called the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning, and he was founding director of the Wallenberg Global Learning Network. He is presently a principal in the Stanford Design School initiative.


Department of Engineering, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA, 91711-5990; telephone: (909) 621–8853; fax: (909) 621–8967; e-mail: clive_dym@hmc.edu.

5136 Etcheverry Hall, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 94720-1740; telephone: (510) 642–6450; fax: (510) 643–5599; e-mail: aagogino@socrates.berkeley.edu.

424 Panama Mall, Building 560, Center for Design Research, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305; telephone: (650) 725-0217; fax: (650) 725–8475; e-mail: ozgur@stanford.edu.

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139; telephone: (617) 324–6133; fax: (617) 258–6427; e-mail: danfrey@mit.edu.

Stanford Center for Design Research, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Terman Engineering Center, Room 507, Stanford, CA 94305-4021; telephone: (650) 723–1869; fax: (650) 723–3521; e-mail: leifer@cdr.stanford.edu.

Abstract

This paper is based on the premises that the purpose of engineering education is to graduate engineers who can design, and that design thinking is complex. The paper begins by briefly reviewing the history and role of design in the engineering curriculum. Several dimensions of design thinking are then detailed, explaining why design is hard to learn and harder still to teach, and outlining the research available on how well design thinking skills are learned. The currently most-favored pedagogical model for teaching design, project-based learning (PBL), is explored next, along with available assessment data on its success. Two contexts for PBL are emphasized: first-year cornerstone courses and globally dispersed PBL courses. Finally, the paper lists some of the open research questions that must be answered to identify the best pedagogical practices of improving design learning, after which it closes by making recommendations for research aimed at enhancing design learning.

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