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Cognitive Heuristics in Defining Engineering Design Problems

[+] Author Affiliations
Jaryn A. Studer, Seda Yilmaz

Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Shanna R. Daly, Colleen M. Seifert

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Paper No. DETC2016-59942, pp. V007T06A009; 11 pages
  • ASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 28th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, August 21–24, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5019-0
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


This paper explores “problem exploration heuristics,” or cognitive strategies used to identify and reframe design problem descriptions. The way a design problem is structured influences the types of ideas a designer generates; in particular, some framings may lead to more creative solutions and using multiple framings can support diverse solutions. Most existing problem exploration strategies have not been derived from empirical studies of engineering design practice. Thus, in our work, we drew upon a sample of engineering design problems and analyzed how the problem descriptions evolved during design. Examining iterations on the problem description allowed us to identify heuristics evident in designers’ recrafting of problem descriptions. Heuristics were defined based on the elements in each problem description and their perceived role in transforming the problem. We present a systematic methodology for identifying problem exploration heuristics, and describe five unique Problem Exploration Heuristics commonly observed in structuring design briefs.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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