This award is funded under the Americproan Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). The research objective of this award is to provide substantive and empirical evidence of the ability to enhance engineering design creativity through the use of a computational concept generator paired with team training support. The research activities will identify the strengths and weaknesses of concept generators for engineering design and advance a repository of existing design knowledge to help produce innovative new solutions. In addition, a novel gaming-style iPhone application will be researched to help populate the design repository with diverse design solutions via user-entered, user-policed, and user-rated data that will support the concept generator. Finally, the research team will produce and validate team training protocols designed to stimulate individual creativity within a team-based design environment that will accompany the concept generator in order to synergistically cultivate innovative solutions.
If successful, this research will result in a concept generation technology and team training protocols capable of enhancing the creativity of engineering designers at all levels of experience and for both academia and industry alike. The software, including the concept generator and the iPhone application, as well as the team training modules, will be freely available for educators, industry, and the population at large. The research will incorporate test cases from several different freshman and senior undergraduate team-based design projects, including assistive devices for the elderly or disabled and engineered entertainment devices for theater special effects. The results will be disseminated through journal and conference publications and special topic workshops held in conjunction with annual conferences for both engineering design and psychology communities involved with creativity research. In addition, results from this grant will support research to create a suite of cyber-infrastructure tools for conceptual design under the NSF Engineering Virtual Organization project known as VOICED (a Virtual Organization for Innovation in Conceptual Engineering Design).