Design-by-analogy and representation in innovative engineering concept generation
Design-by-analogy is an important tool for engineers seeking innovative solutions to design problems. A new method for systematically guiding designers in seeking analogies, the WordTree Design-by-Analogy Method, was created based knowledge gained from a series of experiments and prior literature. The WordTree Method linguistically re-represents the design problem and leads the designer to unexpected, novel analogies and analogous domains. A controlled experiment and the applications of the method to a number of engineering projects prove the method's value. Designers implementing the method identify a greater number of analogies. Application of the method to a set of engineering project resulted in unexpected, novel analogies and solutions. A set of experiments to more deeply understand the individual cognitive and the group social process employed during analogical design guides the development of the WordTree Design-by-Analogy Method. A series of three experiments shows the effects of the problem representation and how the analogy is initially learned on a designers' ability to use the analogy to solve a future design problem. The effect of the problem representation depends on how the analogy is initially learned. Learning analogies in more domain-general representations facilitates later retrieval and use. A fourth experiment explored group brainwriting idea generation techniques including 6-3-5, Gallery, C-Sketch and Brainsketching through a 3 X 2 factorial experiment. The first factor controls how teams represent their ideas to each other, words alone, sketches alone or a combination. The second factor determines how teams exchanged ideas, either all the ideas are displayed on the wall or sets of ideas are rotated between team members. The number, quality, novelty and variety of ideas are measured. The greatest quantity of ideas is produced when teams use a combination of words and sketches to represent their ideas and then rotationally exchange them. This corresponds to a hybrid 6-3-5/C-Sketch method.