Characterizing the Role of Modeling in Innovation

Ann F. McKenna and Adam R. Carberry
Department of Engineering Arizona State University
College of Technology & Innovation Mesa, AZ 85212
Email: ann.mckenna@asu.edu

Abstract
Modeling is a core skill for engineering students and a pervasive feature of the engineering curriculum. Engineering students engage in modeling anytime they use an equation, flow chart, force diagram, or any other representation of some physical phenomena regardless of discipline. In this way modeling relates to both design process and analysis; however, students do not always recognize the full and nuanced ways that these two interact. This paper reports results from our research that is exploring the role that computational, analytical, and modeling abilities play in innovation, in the context of engineering design education. Our study reports results on faculty and students’ conceptions on the role of modeling in design. Specifically, our study sheds light on the variations in how faculty and students describe how to model a design idea or solution, and the different ways each group perceives how models can be useful/helpful in the design process.

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