2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Designettes in Capstone: Impact of Early Design Experiences in Capstone Education with Emphasis on Depth of Design Process Content

Presented at Design Tools and Skill Development

The engineering design process can be a complex and lengthy process, and be considered a daunting experience for engineering students embarking on their first full-length project. “Designettes” are a pedagogical approach to introducing parts of engineering design in such a way that students can experience it in a manageable, introductory fashion. In many design courses, students may experience design activities such as “Customer Needs Analysis,” “Functional Decomposition,” “Concept Generation,” “Concept Selection” and “Prototype Planning” for the first time. One approach to increasing design experience to aid understanding of these activities is to use the designette exercise to provide the students with a framework of the design process. They can then rely this framework for their longer capstone projects. The designette is highly tailorable and an understanding of the appropriate factors related to its successful implementation is desired. We have used several versions of the designette approach over the past five years in our two-semester capstone design course. Each year we’ve implemented the designette across numerous projects, where teams of 3-8 students are also assigned year-long, externally sponsored projects. Previous research reported on the effects of varying the length of the designette and with the use of related and unrelated designettes to the students’ year-long projects. In each use of the designette, the suite of five design activities mentioned above was presented in varying levels of depth of coverage. For the past two years, data has been gathered on the effect of varying the amount of design content provided on the effectiveness of the designette approach. Design content detail in the current year of designettes was increased by approximately 50% over previous years. Faculty and student feedback was primarily used to characterize and compare the designette’s effectiveness. Initial results suggest a continued benefit of the inclusion of the designette approach to capstone design courses, with varying results from the depth of design process coverage.

  1. Lt. Col. Cory Cooper United States Air Force Academy [biography]
  2. Dr. Daniel D. Jensen United States Air Force Academy [biography]
  3. Dr. Michael Lawrence Anderson P.E. United States Air Force Academy [biography]
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