Innovative conceptual engineering design- A template to teach innovative problem solving of complex multidisciplinary design problems

Charles Camarda, Sven Bilen, Olivier De Weck, Jeannette Yen, Jack Matson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), in conjunction with the National Institute for Aerospace (NIA), CIBER, Inc. and faculty from NASA, Georgia Tech, MIT, and Penn State recently developed and taught a short five-day course entitled: "Innovative Engineering Design." Unlike previous NESC Academy courses, which stressed discipline knowledge capture and transfer from past NASA experiences (e.g., developing complex hardware for programs like Apollo), this course teaches techniques for conceiving innovative concepts to solve complex multidisciplinary problems. The methodology used for this course was one that evolved from experiences working several NASA and joint NASA and DOD advanced development programs. The processes for rapidly conceiving, evaluating, and developing concepts are explained as well as methodologies for accelerating the maturation of said concepts. The formulation of a five-day short course was a collaboration of faculty and organizations mentioned above. The course centered on the solution of a current critical problem facing NASA: The contingency land landing of the Orion capsule. The Orion capsule is a four-to-six-person spacecraft launched atop the Ares I rocket as part of the Constellation Program (C×P). The current Orion design would result in injury to the crew in the event of a land landing. This paper is an overview of the format, teaching methodology, and resultant ideas/concepts that students conceived and developed by analysis and, in some cases, both analysis and test in only five days. Several of the ideas were novel and had not been pursued by the C×P. Several of the ideas are currently being pursued by commercial space launch companies. Viable solutions conceived by the students received funding by NASA and are currently under study by several of the faculty and students of Penn State and MIT. The paper presents an overview of the course philosophy and format as well as some of the concepts that were presented by the five student teams on the last day of the course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Louisville, KY, United States
Duration: Jun 20 2010Jun 23 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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