An Observational Study of Design Team Process: A Comparison of Student and Professional Engineers

[+] Author and Article Information
R. P. Smith, A. Leong

Industrial Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

J. Mech. Des 120(4), 636-642 (Dec 01, 1998) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2829326 History: Received May 01, 1997; Revised July 01, 1998; Online December 11, 2007


Fifteen groups composed of engineering students and professionals were videotaped while performing a simulated design task. Using interaction analysis, it was found that professional teams were more likely to engage in management activities, outline an overall design philosophy, and not overlook detailed specifications. Professional teams also adhered tentatively to the early design artifacts; early design attempts were viewed as experiments for acquiring more information about the design space. Student teams were much more likely to engage in a generate and test pattern throughout their design process, making incremental improvements to their current artifact. Although the number of groups was small, these patterns were strong and the differences were statistically significant. It is suggested that these differences are useful for guiding how engineers are educated and for understanding whether students should be used as experimental subjects in engineering design research.

Copyright © 1998 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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