Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering



The Prototype for X Framework: A holistic framework for structuring prototyping methods to support engineering design


Ms. Jessica Menold


Pennsylvania State University


Friday, February 24, 2017 at 11:00:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Woodruff School Graduate Women


Each year, companies spend billions of dollars on product research and design. Studies indicate that anywhere from 40-50% of those resources are wasted on cancelled products or those which yield poor results. The largest sunk cost of product development occurs during the prototyping phase of the design process, yet engineering design research has largely overlooked this pivotal stage in the design process. Prototypes ranging from low fidelity (simple physical models) to high fidelity (fully functioning devices or systems) are used throughout the design process to communicate ideas, gather user feedback, explore parallel design concept, and make decisions. Prototypes are clearly critical artefacts in the design process, helping designers and design teams progress towards a finalized product; however, a structured prototyping framework that incorporates all of these insights and best practices into one cohesive strategy does not exist. We also know from previous work that structured prototyping methods can have enormous benefits for individual designers, design teams, and end products; however, many of these insights from research have not been translated into practice. This TECH talk will review a new theoretical framework for prototyping called Prototype for X or PFX. PFX draws from Human-Centered Design (HCD), Design Thinking (DT), and Design for X (DFX) frameworks and methods to enhance the design process and enable designers to prototype more effectively. Among the anticipated impacts of PFX are increases in user satisfaction, technical quality, and manufacturability of end designs. Results from a between-subjects analysis indicate that PFX methods helped increase the desirability, feasibility, and viability of end designs. These results imply that teams introduced to PFX methods produced prototypes that outperformed designs from the control teams across user satisfaction, perceived value, and manufacturability metrics. This work will improve our understanding of the prototyping process and highlight the potential impact that structured prototyping methods could have on end designs.


Jessica Menold is pursuing her PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Design Theory and Methodology. She obtained her Bachelor's degree from the Pennsylvania State University in 2013 and is expected to graduate with her PhD in May of this year. She is interested in exploring prototyping and its role throughout the product development process. Jessica is also interested in entrepreneurship and has founded a prosthetic device company as well as an educational toy company. She won the ASME Innovation Showcase for her company, Amparo, and won a summer fellowship to further develop her second company, CurioSpace. Amparo, the prosthetic socket Jessica designed, was recently named as one of 2016’s top five social innovations. Jessica is also the recipient of the ASME 2016 Teaching Fellowship.