SUBJECT: M.S. Thesis Presentation
BY: Nisha Detchprohm
TIME: Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 10:00 a.m.
PLACE: Virtual Room: Microsoft Teams, n/a
TITLE: The Effect of Sketch and Render Quality on the Concept Generation Process in Engineering Design
COMMITTEE: Dr. Katherine Fu, Chair (ME)
Dr. Christopher Saldana (ME)
Dr. Roxanne Moore (ME)


Illusory correlation (IC) is a cognitive bias that appears when choices are based on false perception of patterns from limited data. It is resistant to contradictory data and can prevent subjects from detecting present correlations. IC appears in design or psychology studies as a secondary bias. It has not been studied in depth in engineering design. This research examines the presence and potential impact of IC in the engineering design process. It builds upon prior work that found higher sketch and lower render levels led to greater preference for design concepts. To examine IC, a set different products at different sketch/render levels were presented to participants. Through a survey-based data collection instrument, participants were then asked to rank these products based on a series of attributes. Participants include undergraduate engineering (novice) and graduate engineering students at a major southeast US institution (advanced).

Data was collected with 70 novice and 21 advanced designers. Results indicated no statistically significant linear correlations between participant rankings of products and the sketch/render quality level of their depictions; however, a non-linear relationship for preference-based questions where participants gave higher rankings to products drawn using sketch/render level 1 or 4. No statistically significant differences were found among correlations in the comparison of novice and advanced designers between rankings and sketch/render quality levels, but advanced designers had stronger correlations to ground truth. This may indicate less vulnerability to IC bias due to a stronger understanding of and intuition for product functionality based upon visual inspection.