Expanding the Solution Space in Engineering Design Education: A Simulation-Based Investigation of Product Dissection

Mohammad Alsager Alzayed, Christopher McComb, Samuel T. Hunter, Scarlett R. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Product dissection has been highlighted as an effective means of interacting with example products in order to produce creative outcomes. While product dissection is often conducted as a team in engineering design education, the research on the effectiveness of product dissection activities has been primarily limited to individuals. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of the type(s) of product dissected in a team environment on encouraging creative design outcomes (variety, novelty, and quantity) and the underlying influence of educational level and dissection modality on these effects. This was accomplished through a computational simulation of 14,000 teams of noninteracting brainstorming individuals generated by a statistical bootstrapping technique using a design repository of 931 ideas generated by first-year and senior engineering students. The results of the study highlight the importance of educational level, dissection modality, and the number of products dissected on team design outcomes. Specifically, virtual dissection encouraged the exploration of more novel solutions across both educational levels. However, physical dissection encouraged the exploration of a larger variety and quantity of ideas for senior teams while virtual dissection encouraged the same in first-year teams. Finally, dissecting different types of products allowed teams to explore a larger solution space. The findings presented in this study can lead to a better understanding of how to deploy product dissection modules in engineering design education in order to drive creative design outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number032001
JournalJournal of Mechanical Design
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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