SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Bumsoo Lee
TIME: Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 10:00 a.m.
PLACE: MRDC Building, 4211
TITLE: Advancing and Automating Mindmapping Technologies to Enhance and Enable Human Creativity and Virtual Collaboration
COMMITTEE: Dr. Katherine Fu, Chair (ME)
Dr. Julie Linsey (ME)
Dr. David W. Rosen (ME)
Dr. Ashok Goel (IC)
Dr. David Joyner (CC)


The objective of this research is to augment human cognition through the advancement and automation of mindmapping technologies, which will enhance and enable human creativity and virtual collaboration. Mindmapping is a visual brainstorming technique that allows problem solvers to utilize the human brain’s ability to retrieve knowledge through similarity and association. While it is a powerful tool to generate concepts in any phase of problem solving or design, the content of mindmaps is usually manually generated while listening or conversing, requiring a high demand of cognitive load. By establishing the technology to enhance mindmapping for not only the 1.3 billion people on virtual teams, but also for any problem solver, the ability to generate novel solutions and link previously unconnected information can be unlocked. The research tasks proposed here are: (1) Develop a speech-driven automated mindmapping software tool; (2) Test the utility of the automatic generation of mindmaps from audio data of collaborative meetings, hypothesizing a reduction in time and cognitive load required for documentation of team problem solving outcomes; (3) Develop integrated AI assisted mindmapping for use during collaborative problem solving to augment collaborative cognition; (4) Test the effect of AI assisted mindmapping on human creativity, examining the ideation outcomes of collaborative problem solving.

This research has the potential to be highly impactful in design and virtual collaboration. With cognitive assistance to better visualize, connect, and uncover ideas, designers will be more efficient, effective, and innovative in their problem solving and design processes, leading to better solutions developed in virtual environments. The geographic and temporal flexibility of virtual design teams and those who lack of face-to-face interactions present challenges related to design team cognition and communication. The goal of this research is to pioneer advanced digital mindmapping technologies to overcome these limitations, which will empower skilled designers around the world. Furthermore, increasing the effectiveness of design team cognition and communication will improve team productivity, ultimately increasing business profitability and economic growth.