DESIGN THINKING: COGNITIVE PATTERNS IN ENGINEERING DESIGN DOCUMENTATION
Westmoreland, Sophoria Nicole
Schmidt, Linda C.
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Engineering design is an integral resource that on the surface uses creative, scientific, and process knowledge. Over the years many research driven improvements have been made to the methods and tools used for crafting the engineering design profession. Some progress has been made in exploring the cognitive processes, reading between the lines, and thinking about design thinking. This information is valuable to engineering designers in visualizing and performing the product development process. This dissertation is interdisciplinary in nature. The goal of this research is to apply cognitive research techniques to engineering design documentation to understand what happens in the mind during the design process. This research can be considered as an exploratory study of uncovering cognitive processes during design by developing a coding scheme that is applied to student and professional design journals. A successful cognitive coding scheme can be used in different domains and leads to development of new metrics for examining journal activities. This first study will enable future work aligned with the larger research goal of improving the understanding of design thinking. Engineering design documentation is one method of revealing insights into the mysteries of the mind. Design journals are used in this study combined with a Cognitive Coding Scheme created by the author to explore design thinking. This dissertation focuses on identifying patterns in cognitive behavior of engineering designers. Design documentation is also analyzed for insights on attitudes towards design journaling. This dissertation will make a contribution to the field of engineering design research by presenting a cognitive coding scheme capable of revealing insights into the mind of the designers.