What Types of Constraints Lead to Innovative Design Solutions? The Effect of Client and Project Constraints in Authentic Design Experiences

Andrea Goncher and Aditya Johri
Department of Engineering Education
Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA 24061–0002
Email: agoncher@vt.edu, ajohri@vt.edu

Integrating client interaction into authentic design tasks influences the structure of the solution space. In this study we present an ill-defined, real-world relevant, authentic design task to student design teams in a foundational engineering course. Students interacted with clients living and working on a northeastern farm through an online wiki in order to develop solutions to replace their non-renewable energy practices. Identification and implementation of client objectives and constraints were the motivating factors in designing innovative solutions. The specific project objectives and constraints were not as influential, however the disconnect between project objectives and client objectives resulted in unfulfilled client expectations.


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