Ecosystem for Engineering Design Learning: A Comparative Analysis

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International Journal of Engineering Education

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Design is a human activity that encompasses a broad array of tasks. In engineering design, individual efforts can be aggregated into teams to maximize collective progress. Effective teamwork, however, requires extensive management, organization and communication. Furthermore, modern challenges encompass complicated multi-disciplinary problems with faster schedules, fewer resources, and greater demands. Design, as a process, can be dissected into characteristic phases. Within each phase, design solutions are gradually developed. Technological tools have prioritized the structured analyses of the detail and final design phases and have proven to be powerful multipliers for effective design efforts. It has long been the case, however, that major commitments of intangible resources are made as a result of efforts in the less emphasized earlier phases. These commitments and lack of modern toolsets for requirement development and conceptual design activities materialize as major sources of design pitfalls, both in industry and on student design projects. This paper presents a digital Ecosystem for Engineering Design Learning as a comprehensive, yet flexible, framework for capstone design teams. The digital Ecosystem has been developed as a feasible technology to bolster student information management, teamwork, communication, and proficiency in fundamental design principles, and as a technology capable of alleviating rework and process-related productivity interruptions. Its primary innovation, for capstone applications, is the ability to assess design work automatically against the design process, as well as against ABET compliant learning objectives, and provide prompt advisories in case of design oversights. The digital Ecosystem is compared to tools for project management, team communication, and requirement management.

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