SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Olufunmilola Atilola
TIME: Monday, July 29, 2013, 12:00 p.m.
PLACE: MRDC Building, 4211
TITLE: The Effects of Representation and Analogy on Engineering Idea Generation
COMMITTEE: Dr. Julie Linsey, Chair (ME)
Dr. Chris Paredis (ME)
Dr. Bert Bras (ME)
Dr. Dirk Schaefer (ME)
Dr. Wendy Newstetter (BME)
Dr. Ashok Goel (IC)


The use of representations in engineering is an important and common practice in the designing of new products and for conveying information; in fact, it is impossible for a new product to be created without it being represented in some form. Representations in engineering design can range from hand sketches, pictures, computer-aided designs (CAD), physical models, and even text descriptions. Design representations can also be broken down by function in the form of functional models and decompositions. The use of these visual or physical examples allow engineers to get a clearer picture of how a design or component works and it enables them to have a better understanding of the overall design and function. Studies have shown that the type of representation used in portraying a design is extremely important because the way a design is represented can enhance or hinder understanding. This proposal seeks to investigate and understand which type of representation is best for enhancing the idea generation process in engineers, while also reducing design fixation, which occurs when designers blindly adhere to the features of their own initial design solutions or to features of existing design examples. This proposal also explores how effective analogical design is when used in the idea generation process to solve real-world engineering design problems.