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Ideation and Concept Design

TITLE: Ideation and Concept Design


DATE: March 2006

AUTHORS: P. Gregson, Dalhousie University (

STUDENT ASSISTANTS: Steve Hankinson, Steve Small, Brad Crowell

INTENDED AUDIENCE: 2nd year engineering students

ABSTRACT: These three modules are intended to provide the student and the instructor with a framework for learning and teaching the “fuzzy front end” of the Product development Process. The first module introduces the value of successful design to the company, the notion that product design is a risk-management process, the formation of an effective design team and an introduction to the five stages of design.

The second module presents the Idea Generation stage of the design process. This stage is largely an introduction to marketing, but it is essential to the design engineer because it connects the customer to the engineer's design process. Techniques and procedures for identifying, quantifying and assessing market needs and wants, determining the attributes required and desired, estimating market size and the impact of attributes on size, determining necessary functions, and establishing the engineering characteristics of any product that addresses identified needs are introduced. Attribute sensitivity functions and the House of Quality in QFD are presented with practical exercises. The notions of wants, needs, attributes, characteristics, requirements, constraints and specifications are defined.

The latter part of Idea Generation is concerned with finding individual concepts that provide the attributes necessary to meet the needs of the identified market segment. No attempt is made to integrate these concepts into a product because in this stage, possible solutions and not best solutions, are sought. At the end of this stage, concepts are screened using Pugh's concept screening tool.

The module is intended for two weeks of classroom instruction in conjunction with two laboratory sessions, two assignments and a two-week project. The module is intended for 2nd year engineering students. While this material has been taught to 2nd year E&CE students, this module is intended for students in all disciplines.

The third module is presents Conceptual Design, the second stage of the design process. In this stage, the previously defined concepts are combined, modified, refined and integrated into a sensible, concept-level design or configuration of the product. The module presents various tools for conceptual design including morphological charts, concept sketching, process flow diagrams and others. The Conceptual design stage culminates in concept scoring to find the best combination of concepts to take forward to the next design stage.

The three modules are accompanied by selected cases for case-based teaching, assignment problems and laboratory sessions. The modules have numerous examples throughout.


info/ideation_and_concept_design.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)