Campus Units

Industrial Design

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

2012 ASEE Annual Conference

Conference Title

2012 ASEE Annual Conference

Conference Date

June 10 - 13, 2012


San Antonio


Design Heuristics to Facilitate Multiple Modes of Idea Generation: Initiating Ideas, Modifying Concepts, and Concentrating Group BrainstormingOur workforce must be capable of innovation to face the Grand Challenges in Engineering of the21st Century; however, instructors find it difficult to teach students to “think innovatively,” andoften do not provide them with the necessary tools and methodology to generate creativedesigns. Creative thinking during idea generation in design has been traced to successfulinnovation. While there are a variety of proposed methods for idea generation, only one has beensystematically derived and empirically validated in scientific studies: Design Heuristics. DesignHeuristics are prompts that facilitate and guide design space exploration during conceptgeneration by helping designers initiate new ideas from scratch or transform existing ideas intonew solutions. A single Design Heuristic can produce a variety of designs depending on how it isapplied within a problem. The Design Heuristics were developed through protocol studies withexpert industrial and engineering designers and analyses of creative products.In this paper, we report on the outcomes of three different Design Heuristic implementationstudies. Each study was different in its design problem, participant expertise, group vs.individual work, and method of heuristic instruction. In one study, professional engineers from amanufacturing company used a subset of Design Heuristic cards in a team environment to guidean innovation workshop for a new line of consumer products. In the two other studies, freshmanstudents in introductory engineering courses were instructed on the use of Design Heuristics andasked to apply them to short design tasks. In one class, the students were asked to generate ideasfrom scratch for an unfamiliar design task. In the other class, the students were asked to useDesign Heuristics as concept modifiers to improve their ideas for their class project. We providesample case studies from each study, in which we show the successes and obstacles involved inthe implementation of Design Heuristics. In this paper, we highlight the benefit of DesignHeuristics in all three contexts, present data on participant design outcomes, and discuss keyfactors associated with successful implementation into design courses.


This is a proceedings from 2012 ASEE Annual Conference, June 10-13, 2012. Posted with permission.


© 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference

Copyright Owner

American Society for Engineering Education



File Format



Article Location