Research Papers: Design Education

Designettes: An Approach to Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Education

[+] Author and Article Information
Cassandra Telenko

School of Mechanical Engineering,
Georgia Institute of Technology,
801 Ferst Drive,
Atlanta, GA 30332-0405
e-mail: cassandra.telenko@me.gatech.edu

Kristin Wood

Engineering Product Development,
Singapore University of Technology and Design,
8 Somapah Road,
Singapore 487372, Singapore
e-mail: kristinwood@sutd.edu.sg

Kevin Otto

Engineering Product Development,
Singapore University of Technology and Design,
8 Somapah Road,
Singapore 487372, Singapore
e-mail: kevin_n_otto@yahoo.com

Mohan Rajesh Elara

Engineering Product Development,
Singapore University of Technology and Design,
8 Somapah Road,
Singapore 487372, Singapore
e-mail: rajeshelara@sutd.edu.sg

Shaohui Foong

Engineering Product Development,
Singapore University of Technology and Design,
8 Somapah Road,
Singapore 487372, Singapore
e-mail: foongshaohui@sutd.edu.sg

Kin Leong Pey

Engineering Product Development,
Singapore University of Technology and Design,
8 Somapah Road,
Singapore 487372, Singapore
e-mail: peykinleong@sutd.edu.sg

U-Xuan Tan

Engineering Product Development,
Singapore University of Technology and Design,
8 Somapah Road,
Singapore 487372, Singapore
e-mail: uxuan_tan@sutd.edu.sg

Bradley Camburn

Engineering Product Development,
Singapore University of Technology and Design,
8 Somapah Road,
Singapore 487372, Singapore
e-mail: bradley_camburn@sutd.edu.sg

Diana Moreno

Engineering Sciences,
Université du Luxembourg,
6, rue Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi,
Luxemborg L-1359, Luxembourg
e-mail: diana.moreno@uni.lu

Dan Frey

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
77 Massachusetts Avenue,
Cambridge, MA 02131
e-mail: danfrey@mit.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Education Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received March 2, 2015; final manuscript received September 16, 2015; published online November 18, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Andy Dong.

J. Mech. Des 138(2), 022001 (Nov 18, 2015) (11 pages) Paper No: MD-15-1178; doi: 10.1115/1.4031638 History: Received March 02, 2015; Revised September 16, 2015

Design and other fundamental topics in engineering are often isolated to dedicated courses. An opportunity exists to foster a culture of engineering design and multidisciplinary problem solving throughout the curriculum. Designettes, charettelike design challenges, are rapid and creative learning tools that enable educators to integrate design learning in a single class, across courses, across terms, and across disciplines. When two or more courses join together in a designette, a multidisciplinary learning activity occurs; multiple subjects are integrated and applied to open-ended problems and grand challenges. This practice helps foster a culture of design, and enables the introduction of multidisciplinary design challenges. Studies at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) demonstrate learning of engineering subject matter in a bio-inspired robotics designette (MechAnimal), an interactive musical circuit designette, and an automated milk delivery (AutoMilk) designette. Each challenge combines problem clarification, concept generation, and prototyping with subject content such as circuits, biology, thermodynamics, differential equations, or software with controls. From pre- and postsurveys of students, designettes are found to increase students' understanding of engineering concepts. From 321 third-semester students, designettes were found to increase students' perceptions of their ability to solve multidisciplinary problems.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
Topics: Design , Students
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Wood, K. L. , Elara, M. R. , Kaijima, S. , Dritsas, S. , Frey, D. , White, C. K. , Jensen, D. , Crawford, R. H. , Moreno, D. , and Pey, K. L. , 2012, “ A Symphony of Designettes-Exploring the Boundaries of Design Thinking in Engineering Education,” Paper No. AC2012-4004.
Kober, N. , 2014, Reaching Students: What Research Says About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering, National Academies Press, Washington, DC.
Klukken, P. , Parsons, J. R. , and Columbus, P. J. , 1997, “ The Creative Experience in Engineering Practice: Implications for Engineering Education,” J. Eng. Educ., 86(2), pp. 133–138. [CrossRef]
Kazerounian, K. , and Foley, S. , 2007, “ Barriers to Creativity in Engineering Education: A Study of Instructors and Students Perceptions,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 129(7), pp. 761–768. [CrossRef]
Dym, C. L. , Agogino, A. M. , Eris, O. , Frey, D. D. , Leifer, L. J. , and College, H. M. , 2005, “ Engineering Design Thinking, Teaching, and Learning,” J. Eng. Educ., 94(1), pp. 103–120. [CrossRef]
McMasters, J. , 2004, “ Influencing Engineering Education: One (Aerospace) Industry Perspective,” Int. J. Eng. Educ., 20(3), pp. 353–371.
Bilén, S. G. , Devon, R. F. , and Okudan, G. E. , 2002, “ Core Curriculum and Methods in Teaching Global Product Development,” International Conference on Engineering Education, pp. 1–6.
Bright, A. , and Phillips, J. , 1999, “ The Harvey Mudd Engineering Clinic Past, Present, Future,” J. Eng. Educ., 88(2), pp. 189–194. [CrossRef]
Aglan, H. A. , and Ali, S. F. , 1996, “ Hands-On Experiences: An Integral Part of Engineering Curriculum Reform,” J. Eng. Educ., 85(4), pp. 327–330. [CrossRef]
Koen, B. V. , 2013, “ Debunking Contemporary Myths Concerning Engineering,” Philosophy and Engineering: Reflections on Practice, Principles and Process, D. P. Michelfelder , N. McCarthy , and D. E. Goldberg , eds., Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 115–137.
Koen, B. V. , 2013, “ Debunking Contemporary Myths Concerning Engineering,” Philos. Eng. Technol., 15, pp. 115–137.
Ahmed, S. , 2007, “ An Industrial Case Study: Identification of Competencies of Design Engineers,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 129(7), pp. 709–716. [CrossRef]
Dym, C. L. , and College, H. M. , 1994, “ Teaching Design to Freshmen: Style and Content,” J. Eng. Educ., 83(4), pp. 303–310. [CrossRef]
Nielsen, J. D. , Du, X. Y. , and Kolmos, A. , 2010, “ Innovative Application of a New PBL Model to Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Projects,” Int. J. Electr. Eng. Educ., 47(2), pp. 174–188.
Heitmann, G. , 1996, “ Project-Oriented Study and Project-Organized Curricula: A Brief Review of Intentions and Solutions,” Eur. J. Eng. Educ., 21(2), pp. 121–131. [CrossRef]
Bailey, R. , 2006, “ Effects of Industrial Experience and Coursework During Sophomore and Junior Years on Student Learning of Engineering Design,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 129(7), pp. 662–667. [CrossRef]
Otto, K. , Camburn, B. , Wood, K. , Bouffanais, R. , Kyoseva, E. , Yee, L. H. , Poletti, D. , Simpson, R. , Nannicini, G. , and Yong, J. , 2014, “ Integrated 2D Design in the Curriculum: Effectiveness of Cross-Subject Engineering Challenges,” ASEE Annual Conference, p. 24.763.
Bloom, B. S. , 1984, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives Book 1: Cognitive Domain, Addison Wesley Publishing Company, White Plains, NY.
Anderson, L. W. , Krathwohl, D. R. , Airasian, P. W. , Cruikshank, K. A. , Mayer, R. E. , Pintrich, P. R. , Raths, J. , and Wittrock, M. C. , 2000, A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Abridged Edition/Pearson, New York.
Anderson, L. , and Northwood, D. , 2002, “ Recruitment and Retention Programs to Increase Diversity in Engineering,” International Conference on Engineering Education, Manchester, UK, pp. 1–5.
National Research Council, 2000, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.
Calabro, K. , Kiger, K. , Lawson, W. , and Zhang, G. , 2008, “ New Directions in Freshman Engineering Design at the University of Maryland,” ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Saratoga Springs, NY, Oct. 22–25, pp. T2D:6–11.
Prince, M. , 2004, “ Does Active Learning Work? A Review of the Research,” J. Eng. Educ., 93(3), pp. 223–231. [CrossRef]
Laws, P. W. , 1997, “ Millikan Lecture 1996: Promoting Active Learning Based on Physics Education Research in Introductory Physics Courses,” Am. J. Phys., 65(1), p. 14. [CrossRef]
Heller, P. , 1992, “ Teaching Problem Solving Through Cooperative Grouping. Part 2: Designing Problems and Structuring Groups,” Am. J. Phys., 60(7), p. 637. [CrossRef]
Heller, P. , 1992, “ Teaching Problem Solving Through Cooperative Grouping. Part 1: Group Versus Individual Problem Solving,” Am. J. Phys., 60(7), p. 627. [CrossRef]
Hake, R. R. , 1992, “ Socratic Pedagogy in the Introductory Physics Laboratory,” Phys. Teach., 30(9), p. 546. [CrossRef]
Hake, R. R. , 1987, “ Promoting Student Crossover to the Newtonian World,” Am. J. Phys., 55(10), p. 878. [CrossRef]
Sokoloff, D. D. R. , and Thornton, R. R. K. , 1997, “ Using Interactive Lecture Demonstrations to Create an Active Learning Environment,” AIP Conference Proceedings, College Park, MD, pp. 1061–1074.
Mazur, E. , 1997, Peer Instruction: A User's Manual, Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Holzer, S. M. , and Andruet, R. H. , 2000, “ Experiential Learning in Mechanics With Multimedia,” Int. J. Eng. Educ., 16(5), pp. 372–384.
Linsey, J. , Talley, A. , White, C. , Jensen, D. , and Wood, K. , 2009, “ From Tootsie Rolls to Broken Bones: An Innovative Approach for Active Learning in Mechanics of Materials,” Adv. Eng. Educ., 1(3), pp. 1–23.
Linsey, J. , Talley, A. , Jensen, D. , Wood, K. , Kathy, S. , Kuhr, R. , and Eways, S. , 2007, “ From Tootsie Rolls to Composites: Assessing a Spectrum of Active Learning Activities in Engineering Mechanics,” ASEE Annual Conference, Honolulu, HI, pp. 12.770.1–12.770.27.
Linsey, J. , Cobb, B. , Academy, U. S. A. F. , Jensen, D. , Wood, K. , and Eways, S. , 2006, “ Methodology and Tools for Developing Hands-on Active Learning Activities,” ASEE Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, pp. 11.927.1–11.927.31.
Bean, J. C. , 2011, Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
Felder, R. M. R. , and Brent, R. , 2005, “ Understanding Student Differences,” J. Eng. Educ., 94(1), pp. 57–72. [CrossRef]
Heuvelen, A. V. , and Maloney, D. , 1999, “ Playing Physics Jeopardy,” Am. J. Phys., 67(3), pp. 252–256. [CrossRef]
Felder, R. M. , Felder, G. N. , Mauney, M. , Hamrin, C. E. , Dietz, E. J. , and Education, E. , 1995, “ A Longitudinal Study of Engineering Student Performance and Retention. V. Comparisons With Traditionally-Taught Students,” J. Eng. Educ., 84(4), pp. 469–480. [CrossRef]
Hake, R. R. , 1998, “ Interactive-Engagement Versus Traditional Methods: A Six-Thousand-Student Survey of Mechanics Test Data for Introductory Physics Courses,” Am. J. Phys., 66(1), p. 64. [CrossRef]
Jensen, D. , Wood, J. , and Wood, K. , 2003, “ Enhancing Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Through the Use of Hands-on Activities, Interactive Multimedia and Tools to Improve Team Dynamics,” Int. J. Eng. Educ., 19(6), pp. 874–884.
Linsey, J. , Talley, A. , Wood, K. L. , Jensen, D. , and Schmidt, K. , 2008, “ PHLIpS for Active Learning,” ASEE Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, pp. 13.979.1–13.979.10.
Dalrymple, O. O. , Sears, D. A. , and Evangelou, D. , 2011, “ The Motivational and Transfer Potential of Disassemble/Analyze/Assemble Activities,” J. Eng. Educ., 100(4), pp. 741–759. [CrossRef]
Lewis, K. , Moore-Russo, D. A. , Kremer, G. E. O. , Tucker, C. , Simpson, T. W. , Zappe, S. E. , McKenna, A. F. , Carberry, A. R. , Chen, W. , Gatchell, D. W. , Shooter, S. B. , Paretti, M. C. , McNair, L. D. , and Williams, C. , 2013, “ The Development of Product Archaeology as a Platform for Contextualizing Engineering Design,” ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, GA, pp. 23.1186.1–23.1186.17.
Daly, S. R. , Mosyjowski, E. A. , and Seifert, C. M. , 2014, “ Teaching Creativity in Engineering Courses,” J. Eng. Educ., 103(3), pp. 417–449. [CrossRef]
Roedel, R. , Doak, B. , Politano, M. , Duerden, S. , Green, M. , Linder, D. , and Evans, D. , 1995, “ An Integrated, Project-Based, Introductory Course in Calculus, Physics, English, and Engineering,” Frontiers in Education Conference, Atlanta, GA, pp. 1–6.
Beaudoin, D. L. , and Llis, D. F. O. , 1995, “ A Product and Process Engineering Laboratory for Freshmen,” J. Eng. Educ., 84(3), pp. 279–284. [CrossRef]
Kadlowec, J. , Bhatia, K. , Chandrupatla, T. R. , Chen, J. C. , Constans, E. , Hartman, H. , Marchese, A. J. , von Lockette, P. , and Zhang, H. , 2007, “ Design Integrated in the Mechanical Engineering Curriculum: Assessment of the Engineering Clinics,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 129(7), pp. 682–691. [CrossRef]
Chesler, N. C. , D'Angelo, C. M. , Arastoopour, G. , and Shaffer, D. W. , 2011, “ Use of Professional Practice Simulation in a First-Year Introduction Engineering Course,” ASEE Annual Conference, Vancouver, BC, pp. 22.15851–22.1585.9.
Otto, K. , and Wood, K. , 1998, “ Product Evolution: A Reverse Engineering and Redesign Methodology,” Res. Eng. Des., 10(4), pp. 226–243. [CrossRef]
Wood, K. , Jensen, D. , Bezdek, J. , and Otto, K. , 2001, “ Reverse Engineering and Redesign: Courses to Incrementally and Systematically Teach Design,” J. Eng. Educ., 90(3), pp. 363–374. [CrossRef]
Wood, J. , and Campbell, M. , 2005, “ Enhancing the Teaching of Machine Design by Creating a Basic Hands-on Environment With Mechanical ‘Breadboards',” Int. J. Mech. Eng. Educ., 33(1), pp. 1–25. [CrossRef]
Otto, K. , Wood, K. , Bezdek, J. , Murphy, M. , and Jensen, D. , 1998, “ Building Better Mousetrap Builders: Courses to Incrementally and Systematically Teach Design,” ASEE Annual Conference, Seattle, WA, pp. 3.129.1–3.129.21.
Aikens, M. , Brown, S. , Castañeda-Emenaker, I. , French, D. , French, M. , Hauze, S. , Murphy, K. , Rave, S. , Singer, T. , and Chang, N. W. , 2013, “ Guitar Building,” accessed Feb. 20, 2014, http://www.guitarbuilding.org/bios/
Hussmann, S. , and Jensen, D. , 2007, “ Crazy Car Race Contest: Multicourse Design Curricula in Embedded System Design,” IEEE Trans. Educ., 50(1), pp. 61–67. [CrossRef]
Engineering Accreditation Commission, 2013, Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs Effective for Reviews During the 2014-2015 Accreditation Cycle, ABET, Baltimore.
Crismond, D. P. , and Adams, R. S. , 2012, “ The Informed Design Teaching and Learning Matrix,” J. Eng. Educ., 101(4), pp. 738–797. [CrossRef]
Box, G. , and Liu, P. , 1999, “ Statistics as a Catalyst to Learning by Scientific Method Part I-An Example,” J. Qual. Technol., 31(1), pp. 1–15.
Watson, W. , Kumar, K. , and Michaelsen, L. , 1993, “ Cultural Diversity's Impact on Interaction Process and Performance: Comparing Homogeneous and Diverse Task Groups,” Acad. Manage. J., 36(3), pp. 590–602. [CrossRef]
Ogot, M. , Okudan, G. , Simpson, T. W. , and Lamancusa, J. S. , 2008, “ A Framework for Classifying Disassemble/Analyse/Assemble Activities in Engineering Design Education,” J. Des. Res., 7(2), pp. 120–135.
Foster, G. , Holland, M. , Ferguson, S. , and Deluca, W. , 2012, “ The Creation of Design Modules for Use in Engineering Design Education,” ASME Paper No. DETC2012-71181.
Linnerud, B. , and Mocko, G. , 2013, “ Factors That Effect Motivation and Performance on Innovative Design Projects,” ASME Paper No. DETC2013-12758.
White, C. , Crawford, R. H. , Wood, K. , and Talley, A. , 2010, “ Influences and Interests in Humanitarian Engineering,” ASEE Global Colloquium on Engineering Education, Singapore, pp. 15.733.1–15.733.13.
Kolb, D. A. , 1983, Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddl River, NJ.
Keefe, M. , Glancey, J. , and Cloud, N. , 2007, “ Assessing Student Team Performance in Industry Sponsored Design Projects,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 129(7), pp. 692–700. [CrossRef]
Pajares, F. , 1996, “ Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Academic Settings,” Rev. Educ. Res., 66(4), pp. 543–578. [CrossRef]
Groot, D. , Carberry, A. R. , Lee, H.-S. , and Ohland, M. W. , 2010, “ Measuring Engineering Design Self-Efficacy,” J. Eng. Educ., 99(1), pp. 71–79. [CrossRef]
Beghetto, R. , Kaufman, J. , and Baxter, J. , 2011, “ Answering the Unexpected Questions: Exploring the Relationship Between Students' Creative Self-Efficacy and Teacher Ratings of Creativity,” Psychol. Aesthetics, Creativity Arts, 5(4), pp. 342–349. [CrossRef]
Olds, B. M. , Moskal, B. M. , and Miller, R. L. , 2005, “ Assessment in Engineering Education: Evolution, Approaches and Future,” J. Eng. Educ., 94(1), pp. 13–25. [CrossRef]
Chan, J. , Fu, K. , Schunn, C. , Cagan, J. , Wood, K. , and Kotovsky, K. , 2011, “ On the Benefits and Pitfalls of Analogies for Innovative Design: Ideation Performance Based on Analogical Distance, Commonness, and Modality of Examples,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 133(8), p. 081004. [CrossRef]
Markman, A. B. , Wood, K. L. , Linsey, J. S. , Murphy, J. T. , and Laux, J. P. , 2009, “ Supporting Innovation by Promoting Analogical Reasoning,” Tools for Innovation, A. B. Markman , and K. L. Wood , eds., Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 85–103.
Lee, Y. , Gero, J. , and Williams, C. , 2012, “ Exploring the Effect of Design Education on the Design Cognition of Two Engineering Majors,” ASME Paper No. DETC2012-71218.


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Flowchart for designette development

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Research study of three designettes

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Student self-concept in applying biology to engineering design problems increased

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Students understanding of solving multidisciplinary problems increase

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Students prototyping MechAnimal concepts

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Sketch from the MechAnimal activity shows ability to identify components and exercise creativity




Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In