Research Papers

Evaluating the Directed Intuitive Approach for Bioinspired Design

[+] Author and Article Information
Michael W. Glier

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: glierm@tamu.edu

Joanna Tsenn

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: joanna.tsenn@tamu.edu

Julie S. Linsey

Assistant Professor
Georgia Institute of Technology,
Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering,
Atlanta, GA 30332
e-mail: julie.linsey@me.gatech.edu

Daniel A. McAdams

Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Texas A&M University,
College Station, TX 77843
e-mail: dmcadams@tamu.edu

Contributed by the Design Theory and Methodology Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received October 2, 2013; final manuscript received January 14, 2014; published online May 12, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Janis Terpenny.

J. Mech. Des 136(7), 071012 (May 12, 2014) (9 pages) Paper No: MD-13-1440; doi: 10.1115/1.4026825 History: Received October 02, 2013; Revised January 14, 2014

Bioinspired design, the practice of looking to nature to find inspiration for solutions to engineering problems, is increasingly a desired approach to design. It allows designers to tap a wealth of time-tested solutions to difficult problems in a domain less considered by designers. Only recently have researchers developed organized, systematic methods for bioinspired design. Traditionally, bioinspired design has been conducted without the benefit of any organized method. Designers relied on the informal “directed intuitive approach” of bioinspired design, which simply directs designers to consider how nature might solve a problem. This paper presents an experiment to explore the impact of the directed approach on idea generation. This experiment is foundationally important to bioinspired engineering design method research. The results of this experiment serve as a fundamental baseline and benchmark for the comparison of more systematic, and often more involved, bioinspired design methods. A group of 121 novice designers are given one of two design problems and instructed to either generate solutions using the directed approach or to generate solutions without being prompted in any additional fashion. Based on the findings presented here, the directed approach offers designers no advantage in the average number of nonredundant ideas, quality, novelty, or variety of the solutions produced. In conclusion, systematic and organized methods for bioinspired design should be sought to effectively leverage nature's design knowledge.

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Fig. 2

(a) (top) and (b) (bottom). Two examples of a vibrating wristwatch alarm clock with different levels of detail.

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Fig. 3

Three-point rating scale for evaluating quality

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Fig. 1

This page shows two separate solutions: a shirt and nose plugs. The participant indicated that the solutions were separate with numbers and headings.

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Fig. 7

The average variety score for the solutions produced by designers in each group (±1 SE)

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Fig. 4

The average number of non-redundant ideas generated by individuals in each group (±1 SE)

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Fig. 5

The average quality rating of solutions generated by individuals in each group (±1 SE)

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Fig. 6

The average novelty score for the solutions generated by individuals in each group (±1 SE)



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