Project Details


Product dissection, or the systematic disassembly of products, is used as a means to help designers discover the inner workings of products and inspire new design ideas. While product dissection has been widely adopted in both engineering education and industry, there are many widely varying approaches of dissecting products for encouraging creativity and design learning. However, almost all dissection activities currently require products to be dissected physically which limits the utility of these activities due to the cost of the materials, space requirements, and the effort required to dissect the product. This award supports fundamental research to provide needed knowledge for the development of cognitive models of product dissection innovation and learning practices. These new models will enable the development of sustainable, low-cost dissection practices that promote, rather than inhibit, novel idea generation in engineering education and industry. Therefore, results from this research will benefit the U.S. society and economy. This research involves several disciplines including engineering, psychology and management. The multidisciplinary approach will help broaden participation of underrepresented groups in research and positively impact engineering education.

The new cognitive models developed through this award can overcome several limitations of existing dissection practices, ranging from design fixation, reduced innovation potential, and increased cognitive load. However, some scientific barriers are yet to be overcome to realize the full application potential of product dissection activities for design innovation and learning. This research is to fill the knowledge gap on the factor(s) of product dissection that support the creative potential of students and practicing designers. The research team will perform controlled experimental investigations to understand the impact of the medium of dissection, the complexity of the product selected for dissection, the cognitive load requirements of the activity, and the impact of team training. Based on the results of these experiments, cognitive models of the impact of these factors on design learning and innovation will be established.

Effective start/end date9/1/158/31/19


  • National Science Foundation: $363,443.00


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