Design Sprints in Research: A Novel Approach for Enhancing the Professional Development of Graduate Students

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The purpose of this research-to-practice paper is to describe an approach for leveraging design process methods to help graduate engineering students in their professional development, specifically, in promoting problem-solving mindsets for complex problems through a design methods lens. Literature has critiqued the higher education system for propagating a focus on preparation for the professoriate, but recent literature in engineering education has also reinforced that engineering graduate students may not come into graduate school with firm goals to be able to articulate what they may like to do instead of academia. Professional development for graduate students with a focus on goal setting, reflection, and transferrable skills is a potential path forward. To this end, this paper reports on a research-informed intervention developed at a large R1 university that leverages qualitative design process methods to lead students to implement a rigorous process for framing problems, especially for their research. Data collected from the students over the duration of the class include reflection assignments, project reports, and presentations, N = 10 of which were analyzed for this study using qualitative artifact analysis, analyzed through a coding framework that captures entrepreneurial problem-solving mindsets within engineering. The ways in which graduate engineering students translate the qualitative design process methods to help them plan their technical research indicate that interdisciplinary scholarly approaches can be leveraged to help students in their professional development, which can ultimately help students to articulate and realize their goals for graduate school. From this work, professors, advisors, and graduate administrators can consider using similar approaches in research groups or in developmental graduate seminars to help students learn to strategically plan their research as they would a design project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2023 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2023 - Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9798350336429
StatePublished - 2023
Event53rd IEEE ASEE Frontiers in Education International Conference, FIE 2023 - College Station, United States
Duration: Oct 18 2023Oct 21 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference53rd IEEE ASEE Frontiers in Education International Conference, FIE 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCollege Station

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications

Cite this