The objective of this research award is to model collaborative creativity in engineering design teams in a way that considers both an individual's internal creative processes and the external creative processes that occur through team interactions. Creativity in the generation of new concepts is a key driver of innovation in engineering design, but a continuing challenge has been to postulate strategies that consistently encourage high quality concept generation in design teams. Much research on creativity has focused on theories for internal cognition in individuals, while engineering and organizational behavior research has centered on more general creativity-focused activities at the team level. A comprehensive set of experiments and metrics will be formulated to assess the role of each of these aspects of individual and collaborative creativity.
If successful, this research will help advance the fundamental understanding of the nature of creativity in engineering design teams and further the basic knowledge of innovation in design. This work will have impact across many industries, from product development to automotive to services. The metrics and approaches that arise from this research will serve as a foundation from which to develop strategies for design teams and organizations to become more creative as well as innovative. This research will involve the active participation of undergraduates, women, and underrepresented minorities at MIT, USC, and Wellesley College. Research will also involve urban high school students to encourage the pursuit of careers in engineering through exposure to design activities.